Worldwide, over 200 million people are expected to suffer from osteoporosis. But what is osteoporosis, what are the causes of osteoporosis? This disease will weaken the bones and actually means “porous bone.” Some people are at greater risk of osteoporosis than others, and there are a lot of people that can go years or decades without any symptoms or pain. In this blog we will discuss the causes of osteoporosis, the symptoms of osteoporosis and if a natural remedy for osteoporosis is out there.
What is Osteoporosis?
Bones are meant to be solid – not porous. When bones are porous, they become brittle and weak. Osteoporosis results in less bone mass and is a disease that impacts 54 million Americans. Women are four times more likely to have osteoporosis during their lives than men.
By the time women reach the end of their lives, 50% will have osteoporosis, while just 25% of men will have a fracture related to osteoporosis. There is also around 30% of the population that suffers from low bone density and will eventually develop the disease.
Annually, two million fractures are related to the condition, with this figure continuing to grow as the population ages. There are multiple causes for osteoporosis, but you can take steps to combat most of them.
Causes of Osteoporosis
The root cause of osteoporosis remains unclear, but researchers know that all cases involve the sponge-like material in your bones or growing tissue. Bones consist of the hard exterior layer and the trabecular layer, which is the sponge-like material inside the bone.
When a person has osteoporosis, it’s the spongy material that starts to weaken and holes begin to form.
Throughout the first 30 to 35 years of your life, you’ll continue building more bone than you lose. Bone is naturally consumed for calcium, which is stored in the bone. When the body is lacking the calcium it needs, it will break the material down from the bone and then rebuild the bone.
It's a natural cycle that works well when you’re younger, and the bone is kept stronger thanks to this process.
When you reach 35, you’ll begin breaking down the calcium in the bone faster than the body is able to restore it. While you may not notice an immediate difference, decades of this cycle lead to bone mass being lost at greater rates. It's not until a person is past the age of 50 that their risks of fractures increase dramatically.
Women are believed to suffer from higher rates of osteoporosis because of menopause. Once menopause occurs, the bone breakdown accelerates.
A few main causes exist that can amplify bone density loss or even cause it:
- Hormones. Estrogen plays a role in bone formation in women and since it gradually lowers after menopause, it’s a major risk factor. Testosterone loss in men can also cause bone mass loss.
- Thyroid. An overactive thyroid can cause accelerated bone loss.
- Calcium. Low levels of calcium may contribute to the condition occurring. When a person has continued lifelong deficiencies in calcium, they’re at a much higher risk of osteoporosis.
- Eating disorders. A person that suffers from eating disorders often lacks the essential vitamins and minerals that their body requires. Severe food restriction leads to accelerated bone loss.
While these are the leading osteoporosis causes, additional causes can include:
- Maintaining a sedentary lifestyle
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Celiac disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Gastrointestinal surgery
A lot of these causes can be prevented with the proper preventative measures. If you take precautions to change your lifestyle choices and eat the right foods, you’ll lower your risk of osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
People often walk around with osteoporosis and don’t realize that anything is wrong. It's not until they have a bone break or fracture that they visit the doctor and realize that they have lower bone mass.
Once the condition has amplified, the symptoms that you experience may include:
- Height loss
- Stooped posture
- Back pain
- Easy bone breaks or fractures
Oftentimes, people do not see a doctor until their condition worsens. If your family has a risk of osteoporosis or you went through menopause early in life, it may be a good idea to speak to a doctor.
Natural Remedy for Osteoporosis
While you may not completely eliminate your risks of osteoporosis, there is a lot that you can begin doing today to lower your risk.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
There is some evidence suggesting that people with higher body weights may be at an increased risk of bone fractures. Losing weight, using healthy methods, may be able to reduce the risk of fractures – the greatest threat of osteoporosis.
If you don’t consume high enough levels of protein, you may have a higher risk of bone loss. There's a big divide in the medical industry on whether or not protein intake impacts bone density.
While the evidence is complex and changes from age group and diet type, it’s still recommended that older adults seek out more protein.
Supplementation is an option for adults that do not consume enough protein in their regular diets.
If you want to increase your calcium intake, you need to also increase your vitamin D intake. The vitamin is naturally produced when you’re in the sun, or you can increase your intake using foods or supplements. Vitamin D improves the body’s ability to actually absorb calcium.
Supplements are a great option for anyone with skin cancer or that is at higher risk of skin cancer. The average daily recommended amount of vitamin D is:
- 600 IU for people between the ages of 51 and 70
- 800 IU if you’re over 70
You can take up to 4,000 IU safely per day. Increasing your consumption of oily fish, liver, egg yolk, red meat, and fortified foods can increase your Vitamin D consumption.
Since calcium is one of the main reasons for the bone breakdown, it makes sense to increase your consumption of calcium. People need different levels of calcium at different times in their lives:
- People under 50 require 1,000mg of calcium in their diets
- People over 50 require 1,200mg of calcium or higher in their diets
Women require higher calcium levels at 50 than men. Men can maintain their 1,000mg calcium levels until the age of 70 in most cases.
There are multiple ways to increase your calcium intake. The easiest method is to take a calcium supplement. If you don’t want to take supplements, you can increase the amount of calcium you consume through your diet.
A few foods that are known for containing high calcium levels are:
- Leafy greens
- Fortified foods
Note: If you increase your calcium intake and have kidney stones or recurring bouts of kidney stones, it may be a result of the excess calcium. There's a link between too much calcium and kidney stones.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis. It's important to exercise. Weight-bearing exercises will work to make bones stronger and will slow the bone loss cycle. Strength training and balance exercises will also help you maintain muscle mass and reduce your risks of falls - the main contributor to fractures.
DMSO is a chemical solvent that has risen in popularity in recent years. The medicinal uses of DMSO are wide-ranging. It has been used in the past to help the effects of Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Tendonitis, Shingles, nerve pain, and more!
There have been a few studies that suggest that DMSO can be used to help prevent osteoporosis.
A study in 2014 found that osteoblastic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (the stem cells found in the bone marrow that are needed in the growth of new bone tissue) was increased by DMSO. This suggests that DMSO has the potential to help treat bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
If you take precautions when you’re younger, you can greatly reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Osteoporosis is a serious disease that will impact most people during their lifetimes. If you follow the recommendations above, you’ll be able to lower your risk of osteoporosis and potential fractures.