What is Osteopenia?
Osteopenia is a condition where your bone mineral density (BMD) is lower than normal peak density, but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis.
Don’t panic if you have osteopenia though, bone loss is not inevitable!
But if you don’t address the cause of your bone loss you’ll be at greater risk of osteoporosis and resulting fractures.
In fact, women with osteopenia represent approximately 50% of the total population at risk for fractures.¹ Plus, those with osteopenia who’ve already suffered a fracture have the same fracture risk as women with osteoporosis.
So while osteoporosis is the more “serious” diagnosis, osteopenia can put you at the same risk of damaging your bones.
4 Signs and Symptoms of Osteopenia
How do you know if you have osteopenia? The following are a few telltale signs.
Bone Mineral Density Testing
The ‘Gold Standard’ for bone mineral density testing is the Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. A DEXA scan can monitor and diagnose osteopenia by calculating how dense your bones are.
After you get your DEXA scan you’ll be given a T-score and a Z-score. The T-score measures the number of standard deviations your bone density is away from that of a ‘young adult’. It gives you an idea of how you compare to someone who is considered at the peak of their bone health.
The Z-score is a measure of the number of standard deviations your bone density is away from that of the average person your age and gender. This is a good indication of how you fare compared to other people in your age range. But if you’re over 50, it’s probably not a score you want to rely heavily on.
A score above -1 means your bone density is considered normal. But if you have a score between -1 and -2.5 it means you have osteopenia. And if your score is below -2.5, you have osteoporosis. To learn more about how DEXA scans work and when you should consider getting one, check out our “Everything You Need To Know About A DEXA Scan” page.
Osteopenia Treatment Options
f you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia, it means you have low bone density. But it doesn’t mean your bone density will inevitably decline. Unfortunately, though, most doctors will prescribe the same treatment options for osteopenia as they would for osteoporosis.² And these conventional treatment options can actually harm your bone health further! The good news is, you can prevent osteopenia, and even turn your bone health around if you already have it, with natural options…
Natural Osteopenia Treatments
Exercise Your Way to Better Bones
Exercise plays an important role in your bone health. And it’s especially important if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. There are two types of exercises, in particular, that benefit your bone health:
- Weight-bearing exercises: Just as exercises that work your muscles increase their strength, exercises that put a load on your bones increase their strength, too! Weight-bearing exercise is any activity where your body works against gravity to bear some form of weight. Weight lifting, yoga, and walking all qualify.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises: Your muscles are actually an important factor in your bone health. See, the skeletal and muscular systems are tightly intertwined. The strongest mechanical forces on your bones are those created by muscle contractions. And these muscle contractions condition your bone density, strength, and microarchitecture (the internal structure of your bones.) Muscle-strengthening exercises, also known as resistance exercises, are activities where you move your body, a weight, or work against resistance.
Non-impact exercises like posture, core, and balance exercises are beneficial, too. However, they are not as beneficial to maintaining or increasing bone density. Check out our ultimate osteoporosis exercise guide, for step-by-step videos and pictures of fun, easy and effective exercises.
- Protein: Did you know protein makes up about 50% of the volume of your bones, and roughly one-third of total bone mass?³ It’s true! In fact, you can’t build anything in your body without protein… including bone. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet! To discover exactly how much protein you need each day, and more information on how protein is related to your bones, check out our “Everything You Need to Know About Protein and Bone Health” page.
- Calcium: You already know calcium is the cornerstone of bone health, right? What’s more, calcium promotes strong, healthy teeth, helps your muscles contract, and plays an important role in cell signaling amongst other benefits. But despite these benefits, only 32% of adults in the US are getting enough calcium in their diet!⁴ Even if you are consuming enough calcium, there are two vitamins you need that work with calcium to benefit your bones. Plus, there are 12 other minerals you need to build strong, healthy bones. (Continue reading to find out what they are!)
- Vitamin D3: One of the major roles of vitamin D3 is to efficiently utilize calcium for your body. It helps to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous and it helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D3 is present in small amounts in salmon, sardines, and tuna. Unfortunately, there are very few foods that are good sources of vitamin D3. The best natural source of vitamin D3 is actually the sun – as UV rays from the sun trigger vitamin D production in your skin.⁵ However, depending on where you live, the season, time of day, the effect of sunscreen and more, most people are still lacking adequate vitamin D. To combat this, a vitamin D supplement is beneficial. But how do you know how much to supplement with? Well, the best way is to get a circulating vitamin D test, which checks your blood levels of 25(OH)D. This is the major form of vitamin D that circulates in your bloodstream and is a true barometer of your vitamin D status. For more on this test, go to the section called “Vitamin D Test – Osteoporosis Diagnosis and Testing” on this page.
- Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2, in its MK7 form, is crucial for making sure the calcium you consume gets to where you need it most – your bones! See, vitamin K2 keeps calcium out of your arteries, soft tissue, and organs and directs it to your bones. It’s like a special set of traffic signs, specifically designed for calcium to read. Now, research shows as little as 90 micrograms of vitamin K2 could be enough to be beneficial for people with osteopenia and osteoporosis.⁶ But here’s the catch; vitamin K2 is very hard to come by in the Western diet. So, a supplement with vitamin K2 is likely your best bet.
- Trace Minerals: Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, and vitamin K2 are simply not enough to nourish your bones. Did you know there are 13 bone-building minerals plus three vitamins your bones need? That’s why a straight calcium supplement alone can’t provide the support healthy bones need. The 13 minerals you need are calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, nickel, vanadium, zinc, silicon, selenium, strontium. And the three vitamins are C, D3, and K2.
You may be thinking, “I’d have to take dozens of different supplements to get all of those!”. But there is a simple, convenient way to naturally increase your bone density that contains all these vitamins and minerals…
The Only Clinically Supported Natural Approach To Stronger Bones
You now know the importance of trace minerals in your bones. You need 13 minerals and three vitamins to build and maintain strong bones. So why take a single-nutrient solution like your store-bought calcium supplement, when bone loss is caused by a multi-nutrient shortage? It’s like trying to bake cookies with only flour! Even though you know you need flour, eggs, sugar, butter and more to bake cookies.
So how do you provide your bones with everything they need, without having to purchase a dozen different supplements? Easy, just take one… AlgaeCal Plus is a plant-based calcium supplement. In fact, the plant-based calcium source is a very special marine algae, called Lithothamnion superpositum, found on the shorelines of South America.
So, why is this algae so special? Well, it provides ALL 13 of the essential minerals your bones crave– and in amounts that are similar to human bone! The algae pre-digests these from the ocean which makes it simple for your body to absorb them. (Unlike the rock-based calcium supplements – calcium carbonate and calcium citrate – made from marble and limestone.) We simply mill the algae into a powder, and add vitamins C, D3, and K2 to produce a calcium supplement that provides everything you need to build strong bones.
And AlgaeCal Plus is the only calcium supplement scientifically supported to increase your bone density. Take the study in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, showing 414 postmenopausal women trying different formulations of AlgaeCal Plus for 12 months– and the lowest average increase in bone density was 1.3%.⁷
Better still, when you take Strontium Boost with AlgaeCal Plus (we call it our Bone Builder Pack) you’re guaranteed to increase your bone density in just 6 months! A study in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, had 216 men and women take AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost for 6 months. On average, participants saw an increase of over 2% in bone density.⁸ You lose about 1% of your bone density every year from age 40 on. Other calcium supplements will at best slow down the bone loss. But AlgaeCal Plus actually increases bone building!
So one year of bone building is all fine and well. But what about the long-term? Well, in our most recent clinical study, 172 women in their mid-60s increased bone density for 7 straight years with the AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost combo!⁹ On average they gained 1% a year, every year. That’s shocking, considering nothing to this point could actually build bone. But it’s not only possible with our Bone Builder Packs, it’s guaranteed.
Protect yourself with AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost today and erase the fear of fractures and living with brittle bones for good.
Pasco, J. A., Seeman, E., Henry, M. J. et al. (2006). The population burden of fractures originates in women with osteopenia, not osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Int. 17, 1404. doi:10.1007/s00198-006-0135-9
Eriksen E. F. (2012). Treatment of osteopenia. Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders, 13(3), 209–223. doi:10.1007/s11154-011-9187-z
Promislow, J. H. E., Goodman-Gruen, D., Slymen, D. J., Barrett-Connor, E. (2002). Protein Consumption and Bone Mineral Density in the Elderly: The Rancho Bernardo Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 155(7), 636–644. doi:10.1093/aje/155.7.636
Bailey, R. L., Dodd, K. W., Goldman, J. A., Gahche, J. J., Dwyer, J. T., Moshfegh, A. J., … Picciano, M. F. (2010). Estimation of total usual calcium and vitamin D intakes in the United States. The Journal of nutrition, 140(4), 817–822. doi:10.3945/jn.109.118539
Caudill, M. A. (2012). Biochemical, physiological, and molecular aspects of human nutrition. Elsevier - Health Sciences Div.
Examine.com. (2018, June 14). Vitamin K Supplement - Science-based Review on Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects. Retrieved from https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-k/.
Kaats, G. R., Preuss, H. G., Croft, H. A., et al. (2011). A comparative effectiveness study of bone density changes in women over 40 following three bone health plans containing variations of the same novel plant-sourced calcium. Int J Med Sci 8, 180–191. doi: 10.7150/ijms.8.180
Michalek, J. E., Preuss, H. G., Croft, H. A., et al. (2011). Changes in total body bone mineral density following a common bone health plan with two versions of a unique bone health supplement: a comparative effectiveness research study. Nutr J 10, 32. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-32
Kaats, G. R., Preuss, H. G., Stohs, S., Perricone, N., et al. (2016). A 7-year longitudinal trial of the safety and efficacy of a vitamin/mineral enhanced plant-sourced calcium supplement. Nutr J 2, 91. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2015.1090357