Dr. Ronald G. Ritchie
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Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis is a condition in which the integrity of bone is compromised. This compromise is the result of a loss of calcium and phosphate salts from the matrix of the bone structure causing it to become weak and brittle. A loss of calcium from bone is partially related to age and is a normal process of aging. But osteoporosis is a greater than usual loss of calcium producing excessive weakness leading to pathological fracture of bones. You’ve often heard of someone falling and breaking a hip. The truth is that, due to osteoporosis, the bone becomes so weak that it breaks from the persons own body weight and then they fall to the floor. This spontaneous fracture of bone from osteoporosis is called pathologic fracture.

What causes the bones to lose so much calcium that they become osteoporotic? There are several mechanisms by which this occurs. Risk factors for osteoporosis include a low calcium intake, hormonal changes associated with aging and menopause, amenorrhea, alcoholism, smoking, lactose intolerance, hyperthyroid problems, impaired calcium absorption and poor protein digestion and assimilation. Healthy bone is a complex of a protein matrix and calcium salts, much like a brick wall. The bricks are the calcium and the mortar between the bricks is the protein matrix. Loosing the integrity of either will cause the wall to be weakened. Calcium is constantly being moved into and out of our bones. Bones are a living structure and require proper nutrition. When bone is deprived of adequate nutrition, they begin to weaken and die. The balance of calcium entering and leaving bone (called homeostasis) is maintained by a complex process in which adequate dietary intake, digestion, assimilation, hormone balance, circulation and activity all play a vital role. Most of these factors are controllable, but require identification and the institution of corrective action.

One of the most well known problems is that of decreased androgen hormone levels (estrogen and testosterone). Both men and women experience decrease in these hormones called menopause. Women experience this suddenly with all of the hot flashes, insomnia, irritability and other problems associated. Men experience the same problems but much more gradually and several years later in life. Both men and women will experience osteoporosis when this condition occurs and is left uncorrected. This is because calcium metabolism is significantly regulated by these androgenic hormones. Hormone replacement therapy (prescription estrogen) for women is not necessarily the right answer. Supplementation of specific forms of calcium, B vitamins, vitamin D and other nutrients will return normal positive bone homeostasis, stop and reverse the process of osteoporosis.