The Top 8 Causes of Osteoporosis

We receive several emails a week asking, “What are the causes of osteoporosis in women and men?”

1. Soda Consumption

Soda drinks pack a one-two punch that can result in a bone brittle knock out! The first uppercut your bones get is because many of us now drink a soda pop instead of milk.

It’s an example of ‘opportunity cost’:  by choosing soda, we give up an opportunity to have fortifying milk, or possibly another multi mineral health drink.

Our bodies only want so much of any liquid, so once the tank is full of Coke – it’s full – and there’s just no more room for mineral rich beverages that can actually help your bones.

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But if you think that you can have your Coke and drink it too – by making sure you drink milk each day as well, you might be wrong.

Because researchers at Tufts University studied several thousand men and women, and controlled for calcium and vitamin D intake so that they all received the same levels.  The only difference was that women in the study who regularly drank cola-based sodas – three or more a day – had almost 4% lower bone mineral density!

So sodas not only do damage by taking the place of healthier drinks, but they also deplete bone density.

Let’s look at why…

Phosphoric acid is a major part of sodas, and is likely in part to blame.

Seems illogical, considering that phosphorus itself is an important bone mineral?  But as the Greeks told us thousands of years ago, life is all about balance and moderation – and sodas make us very unbalanced in phosphorous.

We now know disproportionate levels of phosphorous – compared to calcium – coursing through our blood is a bone depleting combination.

And another bone thinning feature of sodas is the generous amounts of caffeine they contain.

Sure caffeine gives you a (temporary) jolt; some faux energy.

But as is too often true we pay for short term gain with long term (bone) pain because caffeine interferes with calcium absorption:  the Tufts study proved that both caffeinated and non-caffeinated sodas led to lower bone density.  But the caffeinated drinks appeared to do even more damage.


2. Lack of Weight Bearing Exercise

Due to our modern lifestyle we spend the majority of our time at desk jobs, or sitting in cars getting to our desk jobs. The result is our bones are underutilized- compared to our ancestors.

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We are all familiar how muscles will shrink if not used, but what’s less known is that bones do the same. It’s a simple case of ‘use it or lose it’.

So weight resistance exercises are the difference maker. Dr. Neil S. Orenstein, nutritional biochemist: “Without consideration of these effects, no amount of calcium supplementation will prevent osteoporosis.” (1)

The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that a 1994 study of women as old as 70 avoided the expected loss of bone, and even increased their bone density slightly by lifting weights twice a week for a year.


3. Lack of Sufficient Vitamin D

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Adequate vitamin D is crucial for calcium to be absorbed and directed to where it’s most needed-the bones. With low D levels, the body can’t absorb calcium from the diet, so it pulls it from where it can get it- the bones.

Historically we received the needed amount of vitamin D from the ultra-violet light (UVB rays) in sunlight.  Your body would store the vitamin and use it later.

But today we are indoors so much of the time.  And when outdoors the use of sunscreens has become an informal law.

Yes our skin is protected by sunblock, but we have chronic rates of osteoporosis as a result.

There is scientific data that says that the health risks of too much sun (melanoma) is outweighed
by the health hazards of too little vitamin D - by 10 to 1!


4. Not Eating Enough Fresh, Natural Foods

There are many aspects of diet that affect our bone health. Diet is so pivotal because it directs bone density either up or down.

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Arguably, the biggest dietary contributor to osteoporosis is mass produced, mineral depleted food.  In the west we live in abundant times, yet quality has yielded to quantity regarding food.

For example 50 years ago vegetables were farmed as they have been for centuries, in mineral rich soil.  The ground was purposely left fallow for long periods to allow minerals to replenish. Fertilizers were not needed, because the ground provided the nutrients to the plants.

Numerous tests have proven that vitamin and mineral levels in many of today’s most common veggies (broccoli and tomatoes, for example) are 50% less than they were in the 1950s! (2) And similar numbers apply to the other food groups like meat and dairy because cows are also eating vitamin depleted food.

The result of eating mineral deficient foods is that the bones are denied the usual building blocks. So when the body receives only half the amount of
minerals that they are used to, they become thinner; more porous.

Because the composition of our bones is much more complex than just calcium. They are a matrix of calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulfur, chromium, and dozens of others. (2)


5. Excessive Protein Intake

In a study on fractures, 85,900 women from 35-59 years were looked at, who were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study.  Those eating red meat less than once a week had 23% less fractures compared to the ones eating five or more servings of red meat per week. (3)

The science indicates that protein is capable of increasing calcium absorption, but increases calcium excretion to an even greater degree, resulting in a net overall loss.

Because excessive protein creates highly acidic blood, your body has no choice but to draw calcium away from the bones to counter it and bring the body back to a more alkaline state.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the current daily protein requirement is 0.8g/kg of your ideal body weight. So eating more protein per day than the number of kgs you weigh (assuming your proper ideal weight) is considered excessive, and will exacerbate osteoporosis.


6. Eating Processed and Refined Foods

Yet another example of ‘opportunity cost’, our bodies use up extra minerals in order to metabolize processed and refined foods.  This means the minerals don’t reach their intended destination, the bones.


7. Alcohol

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Alcohol is one of the main culprits of weak bones as it affects the stomach’s and the pancreas’ ability to process and absorb vitamin D3.

Excessive alcohol may also alter womens’ menstual cycles, leading to drops in estrogen levels – which negatively affects osteoporosis.

In men, alcohol can lessen testosterone which will reduce osteoblast production, the cells responsible for bone growth.


8. Smoking

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The harm of smoking doesn’t end with our lungs. Most people now realize that we are only as strong as the weakest link. So if the lungs are compromised, other parts of us will be too.

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The harm of smoking doesn’t end with our lungs. Most people now realize that we are only as strong as the weakest link. So if the lungs are compromised, other parts of us will be too.

Smoking increases the chances for osteoporosis because it

- reduces blood supply to the bones.

- reduces production of osteoblasts, the bone forming cells.

- reduces the rate that you absorb calcium.


Sources

1.http://www.naturalnews.com/010528_bone_density_mineral.html
2.http://www.healthquarters.com.au/category/health/page/2/
3.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8610662

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Michael Dewey

About Michael Dewey

Mike is AlgaeCal’s Editor in Chief, and was born in Toronto, Ontario. He is responsible for most of AlgaeCal’s writing material such as blog posts, and you might recognize his face from the AlgaeCal newsletters as well. Outside of work, Mike pursues both sporting and creative pursuits. He enjoys beach volleyball, cycling hockey, baseball and snowboarding, but also uses digital technology to compose his own music; merging and stacking layers of instruments and vocals, one-by-one, to make a full band sound.
  • http://Algeacal Robin Stamps

    Can I take my Centrum Silver along with Algaecal?

    • Mike Dewey

      yes that should not be a problem.

  • Robin Doll

    My doctor did a bone density test on me and now he wants me to take Fosomax for 5 years because I have osteoporosis. I just started it 2 weeks ago and I already want to stop it, because of all the reviews on read on this drug. I really would like to hear from someone else that has or had osteoporosis and tell me how Algae Cal has help them. Thank you.. Robin