Our bones are our framework. They hold us up, they allow us to move. Their health dictates our well-being and how we age.
It can be discouraging and even frightening when you’re doing all the ‘right’ things and still experiencing bone loss. So it’s important to understand there are a myriad of things that contribute to bone loss.
The one thing I’m usually the least concerned about when we’re talking bone health is having inadequate levels and intake of calcium. This may surprise you, but low calcium intake is NOT really why you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, even though that’s been the party line for a long time.
You’ve probably heard about the need for weight bearing exercise and having adequate levels of Vitamin D (blood levels at a minimum of 50 and preferably closer to 90) to keep calcium in the bones. These are both true and important AND there are additional factors to consider, especially if you’re maintaining adequate vitamin D levels, working out and still experiencing bone loss.
Here’s a list of additional factors:
- Inadequate Vitamin K2 levels
- Early Menopause/menopause without estrogen replacement-hormone therapy (HT)
- Years of taking birth control pills.
- Inflammation running in the background (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gut dysfunction)
- Medications such as statins and bisphosphates (given to prevent osteoporosis)
Vitamin K2 is essential for keeping calcium in our bones and preventing it from roaming around and deposited into our soft tissue. Supplementing with K2 can be very helpful but we may have discovered something even better, called GG (read more about this further down the post).
HT (hormone therapy) during early menopause and in later-post menopausal years helps to retain bone, preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis in women. Up to 20 percent of bone loss occurs in women in their first five years of menopause. So during the first 5 years of menopause is when a woman might benefit the most from hormone therapy although therapy after the five year mark can also be helpful.
According to Dr. Thacker of the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, “There is no limit to the length time of HT. HT only helps the bone while one is taking it. Studies have shown that hormone replacement in women who’ve experienced menopause under the age of 45 due to hysterectomy or otherwise, has played a significant role in preventing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and can improve a women’s quality of life and hormone replacement can continue to play a role later in life as well.”
Note: There is a controversial history of hormone replacement therapy as a result of the 15 year WHI study which was published in 2002. Many physicians and women continue to be hesitant and adverse to hormone replacement therapy. It’s important to understand the nuances of this study, the type of hormones used, age of participants, etc. The test results have further been reviewed, resulting in different interpretations and reporting. Here’s a link to a report published by the NIH with new findings and conclusions of that historic study, pointing out the limitations and flaws of the study and conclusions drawn. Here’s a LINK to the 2017 position on hormone therapy from The North American Menopause society.
Is hormone therapy recommended for all women? No, it needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. For some women, hormone therapy may be contraindicated if they have been diagnosed with an estrogen driven cancer.
Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills basically stop the natural cycling of your hormones and prevents ovulation by preventing the natural increase and surge of estrogen. Your estrogen levels are flat lined at a low level while taking the pill. So that means that long term use of the pill can contribute to bone loss because it’s estrogen that keeps calcium in our bones.
Addressing underlying inflammation: Just calming the body down, reducing cortisol levels and inflammatory markers can have an effect on bone density. It’s an important yet often overlooked contributing factor. Also, do you have an autoimmune disease or a digestive issue that’s still acting up in the background? Both of these can contribute to bone loss. Are you taking steroids on a regular basis for your autoimmune disease? Steroids can compromise bone health. Let’s get a handle on this and see how it changes your bone health.
Both Statins and Bisphophates decrease an amazing substance our liver produces, called GG (short for geranylgeraniol) which is essential for making adequate amounts of Vitamin K2 and keeping calcium in our bones and out of our tissues. Calcium that wanders into our tissues can cause kidney stones, gallstones, HBP, atherosclerosis, osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. We naturally produce less GG as we age. Statins and, ironically, the drug that’s prescribed to prevent osteoporosis (Bisphophates), both lower GG production even more. So if you’re on a statin, I highly recommend supplementing with GG. It has the potential of preventing some of our aging processes and bone loss
I’m going to be straight with you, GG (geranylgeraniol) is new to me, my practice and you probably haven’t heard of it either. It’s just now being talked about in medical journals. I’ve just started taking it myself, mainly to see if I can better maintain muscle mass and who doesn’t want a little bit of anti-aging help and a little energy boost.
Since I have no clinical data from my clients yet, I would love feedback from those of you who do try this supplement.
And if you’d like to try GG, you can order yours from my online dispensary, Fullscript. I recommend taking 150 mg to 300 mg/day. Probably tending towards the upper range if taking a statin or have osteopenia or osteoporosis. Just drop me a line at [email protected] and I’ll send you a link to order. Name of the supplement is Annatto E GG by Designs For Health.
Preventing and turning around osteopenia and osteoporosis is multifaceted. And it’s a condition that’s not to be ignored as it can cause significant injuries and shorten lives. That’s where a Functional Medicine approach and practitioner comes in handy.
If you’d like to explore this further with me, please schedule a call. If you’d like to chat and are new to me, schedule a discovery call HERE. If you’re already one of my wonderful clients but would like a little more help in this area or just a tune up on something else, schedule a 30 minute tune up call HERE.
I hope this was helpful to you and/or to a friend or family member. Please pass this along to your mums, aunts, sisters, and cousins! Especially if osteoporosis runs in your family.