Fracture Prevention Beyond Osteoporosis
By Dan Gleason, DC
Bone density is only one factor when it comes to preventing fractures. Over-focus on osteoporosis detracts from the main concern: We don’t want our bones to break!
A major emphasis should be put on fall prevention by incorporating exercises that challenge and improve balance and will ultimately produce less damage if a fall does occur. Yoga, dance, pickleball and hiking are examples of exercises that help maintain equilibrium. Spending time barefoot also helps to stimulate balance “antennae” in the feet and ankles.
Load-bearing exercise should also be included as it can stimulate bone growth. Many exercises fail to produce sufficient loading to trigger bone growth and the hip, for example, may require a load of four times body weight to initiate bone growth. Impact loads produced by vigorous exercise may achieve these levels. For best results, it’s a good idea to take advantage of expert coaching when getting started. As an alternative to load-bearing exercise, whole body vibration machines have been studied extensively in Russia and have the ability to prevent and even reverse osteoporosis.
Other factors to assess on the path to avoiding fractures include:
- Blood sugar problems such as pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Subclinical infections including those in the oral cavity
- Food and environmental allergy
- Heavy metal and organic compound toxicity
- Disuse atrophy from sedentary lifestyle
- Reproductive and adrenal hormone imbalances
- Peripheral neuropathy as related to the above
Osteoporosis affects women more often than men and contributes to fractures, disability and early demise. Bone density testing is commonly done, often leading to prescription medication. These drugs do increase bone density but are fraught with significant side effects including femoral and mandibular fractures and gastrointestinal damage.
Nutritional testing can determine individual deficiencies and excesses of the nutrients that promote healthy bone:
- Vitamin D regulates absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It also is involved in modulating autoimmunity, which can contribute to osteoporosis.
- Vitamin K1 is found in plants and green vegetables. In plays a role in blood clotting and is necessary to support the bone-forming process.
- Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is synthesized by intestinal bacteria. It works together with vitamin D, calcium and magnesium to build strong, healthy bones. K2 directs calcium to your bones and prevents it from being deposited in your soft tissue as stones or calcific bursitis.
- Calcium works synergistically with magnesium, vitamin D and K2.
- Magnesium works with calcium, magnesium and vitamin K2 and aids in calcium absorption.
- Collagen has been shown to strengthen bones and improve osteoporosis.
- Boron has been found to be in the highest concentration in bones and tooth enamel. It may improve bone function by reducing excretion of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
- Strontium, another trace mineral, is also thought to be important for bone formation and strength.
Don’t focus merely on bone density readings; a comprehensive approach to reducing fracture risk is recommended. Consultation and testing with a functional medicine expert will indicate which diet, lifestyle and supplement modifications will bring the highest quality of health and decrease risk of all diseases, in addition to reducing risk of fractures.
Dr. Dan Gleason is the owner of The Gleason Center located at 19084 North Fruitport Road in Spring Lake. For more info: go to TheGleasonCenter.com or call 616-846-5410.