It’s estimated that 50% of women and up to 25% of men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. The risk is even higher for those with an autoimmune or thyroid condition.

Because you can’t see or feel your bones weakening, osteoporosis progresses without patients knowing until there’s a fracture or break. This is why the best approach is to be proactive with your bone health!

We all know that calcium is important, but there are several other factors involved and some key pitfalls to avoid that you likely haven’t heard about. 

Here’s what to keep in mind!

Risk Factors for Bone Loss

Osteoporosis is most common among women and those over 50, but anyone can be affected. Risk factors for bone loss include:

  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Early menopause
  • Autoimmunity
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Having a petite or small frame
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Digestive issues that inhibit nutrient absorption 
  • Taking medications that deplete bone mass
  • Food sensitivities to high-calcium foods

Bone Health Pitfalls to Avoid

If any of the risk factors above apply to you, don’t overlook these mistakes. 

1. Taking Calcium without Vitamin D and Vitamin K2

It’s not just the overall amount of calcium you have that matters for bone health, but also how well you absorb it and where it goes. Vitamin D’s job is to stimulate and facilitate calcium absorption from your food and minimize calcium excretion from your kidneys. 

Vitamin K2 is described as the traffic cop because it directs calcium deposition into bones and teeth and prevents it from settling into soft tissue like blood vessels and joints. Several observational studies have linked low levels of vitamin K with low bone density and a higher risk for fractures.

2. Missing Out on Magnesium

Did you know your bones contain 60% of your body’s magnesium? Magnesium is also required for the metabolism and activation of vitamin D to support calcium absorption.

Numerous studies have revealed that adults with higher magnesium levels have better bone density.

3. Overlooking Zinc

The trace mineral zinc is utilized for bone development and collagen production and appears to promote bone regeneration. Zinc also plays a role in the structure of many proteins, including vitamin D receptors inside cells.

4. Not Exercising

Like muscles, bones become stronger and stay stronger with regular exercise. Weight-bearing activities are highly beneficial for supporting bone health. 

Great choices include:

  • Walking 
  • Stair climbing
  • Bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups
  • Strength training
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

5. Taking Medications that Deplete Bone Mass

Glucocorticoids (like prednisone) are often prescribed to autoimmune patients and both slow bone formation and speed the breakdown of bones. This is in addition to their many other dangerous side effects.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) used to treat heartburn are linked to a higher rate of hip fractures, likely because they reduce calcium absorption by decreasing stomach acidity.

Excessive thyroid medication, drugs for breast and prostate cancer, and the injectable birth control drug Depo-Provera are also known to reduce bone density.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed to menopausal women to slow bone loss. However, these medications carry significant risks, including heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and reproductive cancers.

Natural Strategies for Strong & Healthy Bones

Use these tips to prevent bone loss, promote bone reformation, and reduce your risk for osteoporosis.

Take a Comprehensive Bone Support Supplement
I recommend that all of my patients with risk factors for osteoporosis take RootFix Bone Boost. It combines calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, and zinc for comprehensive support without the expense and hassle of taking 5 separate supplements. 

I find that when patients take Bone Boost in conjunction with eating a nutrient-dense diet, they are able to counteract the depletion of these vitamins and minerals in our modern food supply. 

It can be particularly helpful for menopausal women as it also contains genistein. This phytoestrogen isoflavone is shown to block the breakdown of bone and helps with menopausal symptoms, without the risks of HRT.

Exercise Regularly
Get up and move every day, even better if you can do it outside to soak up some vitamin D from the sun. You can start small if you’re struggling. Park at the back of the parking lot to get extra steps on your way into the store. Make a lap around your house or office every hour. Walk to the mailbox every day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. 

Eat a Diverse Diet of Colorful Foods
It’s so important to have variety in your diet! Your body relies on many different nutrients to rebuild and maintain your bones. The more foods you eat, the wider array of micro and macronutrients you get. So eat plenty of leafy greens, colorful vegetables such as carrots, cruciferous veggies, and squashes, along with berries, melons, and other fruits.

Evaluate Your Medications
If you are taking any of the pharmaceutical drugs listed above, it’s worth approaching your doctor (or a functional medicine provider) to see if you can reduce or eliminate them. Conditions such as autoimmune disease and heartburn can often be put into remission with diet and lifestyle.

At GrassRoots, we’ve helped hundreds of patients reduce their dependence on dangerous pharmaceuticals and restore their health naturally in our Adaptation Programs

About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.

Want to work with Dr. Osgood and the GrassRoots team? Become a patient in our West Lebanon, New Hampshire Functional Medicine clinic, our Burlington, Vermont Functional Medicine clinic, or our Austin, Texas Functional Medicine clinic!