Getting the Jump on Osteoporosis During Puberty

You may recall a government study I posted that estimated more than HALF of Americans over the age of 50 could be at a greater risk for osteoporosis and severe bone problems by 2020, just 15 years away. Those numbers drew my attention to new research on calcium and bone development that suggests efforts to prevent osteoporosis, generally considered a geriatric disease among women, could actually start before puberty.

Because most bone mass is accumulated during this phase of growth, pre-adolescence may represent the time of highest need for calcium in a female's lifetime, according to the lead researcher. Although the risk of losing bone mass is part of the aging process, having the strongest skeleton possible as a youngster can tip the balance toward better bone health in later years.

Tthe clinical trial that tracked calcium's effects on bone density in girls ages 8-13 was an extensive one (seven years). However, the treatment researchers suggested to nip bone loss before it starts -- calcium supplementation -- is problematic and unneccesary. In fact, a study I posted five years ago found a stronger connection between exercise and improved bone density among teens than taking calcium. Fact is, most patients I see are far more concerned about their calcium requirements, but not concerned they are getting enough exercise to build their bones.

Some healthier ways to build stronger bones:

  • Increase your intake of vegetables based on your body's unique nutritional type.
  • If you have trouble getting enough vegetables every day, I strongly encourage you to try vegetable juicing. One of the many positive qualities of vegetable juice is that it is high in vitamin K, an important contributor to bone health.
  • Take a high quality fish or cod liver oil chock full of vitamin D.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 81, No. 1, 175-188, January 2005

EurekAlert January 25, 2005

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