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Building Better Bones

Cancer is a major risk factor for bone loss and fractures because cancer cells influence changes in our skeleton and cancer-specific treatments negatively impact bone cells. As cancer survivors continue to live longer beyond treatment, it is important to adopt strategies to limit bone loss and reduce fracture risk. Ask your doctor about which natural therapies should be considered before moving to prescription medications for bone loss.

Here are our top bone building tips:

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1. Wear a weighted vest while you walk (stopping to do some jumping jacks!) 

A small study of postmenopausal women found those who wore a weighted vest while participating in an exercise program that included jumping three times a week prevented significant hip bone loss. (J Ger A Biol Sci Med Sci, Sep 2000)

Our favorite vest is a weighted walking vest made for women. It’s black, so it’s stylish, and you can choose 5 or 8 pounds of weight to start, with the option of adding more weight down the road. Instead of going over the head, you simply zip and go! The bonus? Compared to other vest choices, it’s reasonably priced too.

2. Get educated about the dietary factors that support and tear down your bones.

Dr. Susan Brown’s book Better Bones Better Body is like the osteoporosis bible! She really explains that bone health is far less about calcium or estrogen….and more about creating that perfect acid-base balance and so much more. You will learn about the most important bone building nutrients needed to optimize bone health. She gives straightforward advice about diet, exercise and other lifestyle components that put you on the right track for effective bone building. An easy read and well worth your time.

3. Find out how acidic you are.

Higher acid levels increase as we age. In a clinical trial, women taking alkalinizing compounds to combat diet-induced acid loads realized significant bone mass density increases at the lumbar spine. (Nutrients, Apr 2018) The only way you will find out if you are in a more acidic or alkaline state is to test! You may be eating right or doing what you think you need to do to protect your bones. But you are an individual, and you might not be doing enough to create a more alkaline state necessary to preserve bone. These alkaline strips are so easy to read and are very responsive to urine or saliva. They will help you measure what is going on inside your body so you can make adjustments in your diet or supplement regimen accordingly. 

4. Support your bones with 5 major bone building nutrients.

Calcium and Magnesium. If your body doesn’t get enough calcium from food or supplements, it robs it from your bones. Postmenopausal women need 1,200 mg of calcium per day and most are lucky to meet 50% of that requirement, especially if they are eating a more plant-based diet. Supplementing with 500 mg of calcium citrate can bridge the gap. Calcium and magnesium should be taken together since magnesium ensures calcium is absorbed and utilized by the body. 

Vitamin D. Osteoporotic fractures are more common in women who are deficient in Vitamin D, a hormone that is the most important regulator of calcium absorption. There is emerging evidence that the optimal blood level for Vitamin D3 for fracture prevention is 70-80 nmol/L. Most women will not be at that range. 

Vitamin K1/K2. Analysis of 19 studies on postmenopausal women with osteoporosis found that vitamin K2 (MK-7) improved vertebral bone mineral density and prevented fractures. For optimal health, both vitamin K1 and K2 are suggested.

5. Check your hormone levels. 

Estrogen protects bones but decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. Testosterone levels have a clear direct effect on bone health too. Testosterone imbalances can decrease bone density and increase fracture risk. Choose a hormone saliva test that provides results you can share with your doctor to begin the discussion. 

Quick pick: Dr. Neal Barnard’s book Your Body in Balance addresses hormone fluctuations in chronic diseases like cancer.

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