What More can I do for an Osteopenia or Osteoporosis Diagnosis?


For most individuals, our bones are the strongest by the age of 30.  From that point on we begin to lose bone mass and for women, the rate of decline in bone density increases as we approach 50 years of age.

It’s important to take note of the many factors that may likely increase your risk of bone loss.  Early prevention is the best defense against the fears and frustrations of a future diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis and the dilemma of whether or not to start taking medication.

What factors contribute to a decline in bone density? Living a sedentary lifestyle, eating the Standard American Diet, consuming a high sugar intake, having a BMI over 30 (obesity), regular steroid use, regular use of antacids or proton pump inhibitors (such as Nexium and Prevacid) and high alcohol intake may all increase the likelihood of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis.  In addition, certain autoimmune diseases are likely to increase bone fragility and susceptibility to fractures such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis and inflammatory bowel disease.

So what can be done if we learn about an osteopenia or osteoporosis diagnosis?  This is where knowledge is power!  The good news is studies are now showing that bone loss can be improved with diet and lifestyle adjustments.

It’s important to first discuss the finding with your doctor and consider their recommend course of action which will likely be taking calcium supplements along with vitamin D, K, magnesium and consuming plenty of dietary protein.  In advanced cases, they may also recommend medications.  However, there are side effects to consider and it’s important to weigh all your options.

No matter your age and stage in your life, we know that strength and resistance training such as lifting weights, push-ups and squats as well as working with resistance bands is extremely important to slow mineral loss and increase muscle mass.  Weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging and climbing force you to work against gravity and are wonderful for building strong bones and slowing bone loss.  By adding resistance, we cause our muscles to release calcium, magnesium and other important minerals that strengthen our bones.  Always remember to consult with your health care practitioner before starting a new exercise program.

Another form of exercise that improves strength and muscular development is rebounding.  Bouncing on a therapy ball or trampoline is known to promote impact that stimulates the bone cells to regenerate. It’s super fun, easy on the joints and boosts balance which is extremely important for fall prevention.  Individual trampolines can be purchased online or in gym stores and can be added to a bedroom or home gym.  Consider purchasing one with a handle bar for extra security and again, always consult with your physician first.

Exerting some amount of stress on our bones helps to promote growth and re-mineralization and vibration therapy does exactly that.  According to the Healthline.com article Should You Use a Vibration Plate for Osteoporosis?  “Vibration therapy enables muscles to contract and relax dozens of times per second through mechanical vibrations delivered by standing or lying on an oscillating platform.  Muscle contractions, due to their attachment to bone, inherently place (good) stress on the bone, forcing it to respond and grow.”  The word is spreading fast!  Many gyms, physical therapy and rehab centers are now incorporating vibration therapy (VT) for both prevention and healing.  For home use, you can find a variety of price points online such as at http://lifeprofitness.com

When it comes to calcium, we now know that dietary calcium in general is better absorbed by the body than supplemental calcium and therefore has a greater impact in bone building.

“Got Milk?” 

Thanks to clever marketing, we’ve all been trained to think about daily milk consumption for healthy bones.  However, according to Dr. Stefano Guandalini, about two-thirds of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, and according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), milk is one of the nine most common food allergens. In addition, dairy is often considered a food to avoid when attempting to calm the inflammation of an autoimmune disease.  In fact, new studies suggest that eliminating dairy products can even reverse some autoimmune conditions!

Where else in our food supply can we pack in the dietary calcium?

Canned seafood such as sardines and salmon.  In fact, it’s the edible soft bones, such as in canned sardines, salmon, mackerel and anchovies that increase the calcium content.  If taste is a concern, try finely chopping the fish and adding to your favorite salad and tasty salad dressing.  When buying in the supermarket, be sure to leave the “boneless” varieties on the shelf!


Plant Foods

Arugula is a member of the cruciferous family.  It’s rich in natural and bioavailable calcium and might even be a better choice than spinach due to the lack of oxalates which acts as an anti-nutrient.  Kale and bok choy are additional greens that pack a hefty calcium punch with a relatively low level of oxalates.

Cucumber eaten with the skin contains silica to mineralize your bone and maintain healthy connective tissue.

Calcium rich citrus foods include apricots, kiwi, berries, oranges and even the zest from citrus rinds!

Seeds such as sesame and chia as well as spices such as basil, savory, thyme, sage, rosemary, dill and cinnamon are wonderful additions to your plate for both an increase in flavor and for a boost in calcium content.

Oat straw has one of the highest levels of calcium of any tea.  It’s also a nervine which means its supportive to our nervous system.  Consider making as an infusion for a higher mineral content.  Fill the 8 oz jar with boiling water, stir in one tablespoon oat straw, cover with a tight lid and let it sit on the counter for 4-10 hours, then enjoy.

Lastly, we can’t undervalue the importance of good stress management and sleep quality.  Having strong bones is something many people tend to take for granted, as symptoms often don’t appear until bone loss is advanced.  Understanding that our bone health is important and needs to be taken care of at every stage of life, consider incorporating some of these lifestyle additions.  It’s never too early to start.


Recommended Podcasts to learn more:

Myers Detox Podcast with Dr. Wendy Myers ND – Osteoporosis & Osteopenia: Top 10 Tips for Stronger Bones with Kevin Ellis


The Healing Pain Podcast hosted by Dr. Joe Tatta, PT, DPT – How to Increase Bone Density With Pam Tutten, OTC, OT, CHT



This blog is for educational purposes only.  For the purpose of general information and understanding, it is not to be used as specific medical advice or to replace consulting with your doctor. By using this blog you understand that this should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed professional. 



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