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Posture And Osteoporosis: Building Better Bones

Feb 7, 2008
Bone Basics:

* At least 25 million Americans have osteoporosis.
* Another 34 million have bone density low enough to increase their risk of fractures.
* One third of all menopausal women have osteoporosis.
* One half of the women over the age of 65 have osteoporosis.
* By age 75, 89% of women have osteoporosis.
* Eighteen percent of women age 25-34 already have low bone density.
* One in two postmenopausal women will break a bone as a result of low bone density.
* One in five men over the age of 65 will break a bone as a result of low bone density.
* Almost all cases of Osteoporosis could have been prevented!

Osteoporosis - weak, porous, fragile bones - affects millions of people worldwide. Though the effects of osteoporosis are seen in mostly older people, the condition develops over a lifetime. Most people think of bones as strong, permanent structures but the truth is bone tissues are constantly being removed and added. Until a person is about twenty five, new bone cells are added faster than old bone cells are removed, so the bones can become larger and denser. After thirty-five, bone is lost faster than it's added. The good new is decades of research have shown that there is lots you can do not only to slow bone loss, but actually increase bone density well into your 70's, 80's and even 90's. It is never too late.

The damaging affects of osteoporosis are seen in a person's posture. And a person's lifelong posture very much affects and accelerates the damage done to bones by osteoporosis. A chicken and egg scenario is set. Ever caught your own reflection in a window or mirror to see that your head hangs too far forward off your shoulders or that your upper back is curving forward? This means your spinal curves are too exaggerated and that your posture is not what it could be. Now add to that the possibility that your bones are becoming thinner and weaker whether from poor nutritional habits and/or lack of weight bearing and strengthening exercises. Your posture will get worse because your upper body will slump forward even more.

Some of the first bones to thin out are the spinal bones, the vertebrae - especially the ones your ribs connect to. As the upper body slumps forward, abnormal pressure is put on the front part of the vertebrae. If they are thinning out, they begin to crumble and fracture under the weight. This causes even greater slumping and more pressure, etc. and the vicious cycle continues and worsens. You can stop this from happening by becoming aware of your posture and by doing counteractive strengthening exercises. All of the tips, techniques, and exercises in the book and companion DVD titled Posture, Get It Straight! will help you stop the rounding over that occurs as you age, and will help take pressure off spinal bones You will also need to stop the bone loss and regain bone mass by doing all the proactive things that will stop the loss and instead make your bones stronger.

There are three ways to keep your bones strong: diet, weight bearing exercise, and strengthening exercise.

At every age, calcium is essential for strong bones, because it increases the density of the bones. We need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. Every day that you do not consume enough calcium in your diet, your body has no choice but to take calcium from your bones, making your bones weaker and weaker year after year. Government statistics say 75% of American get less than half the amount of calcium they need from their diet. This means 75% of us should be taking a calcium supplement. The forms of calcium shown to be better absorbed by the human body are calcium glycinate, citrate or malate. Make sure you split your dose. Do not take more than 500 mgs. at one time as the body can only absorb so much at one time and then will excrete the rest.

We need about 500 milligrams of magnesium every day to help promote strong bones. Calcium is the mineral that fill in bones and makes them dense. Magnesium is the mineral that strengthens the underlying structure of bone, the bone matrix. We need calcium for dense bones but magnesium for strong bones. The foods that contain magnesium are beans, very dark greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds. If you need to buy a magnesium supplement, look for glycinate, citrate, or malate. Don't take more than 250 mgs. at one time.

Vitamin D is needed to absorb both calcium and magnesium. It causes your body to produce the protein carriers that come and pick up those minerals from your gut to bring to your cells. The current Recommended Daily Requirement is 400 I.U.'s. There is lots of research underway that is suggesting that the dose should be higher, more like 800 I.U.'s each day. If you have enough vitamin A present in your system, fifteen minutes of sunlight a day on your skin causes you to produce your own vitamin D.

Studies done at the University of Minnesota have shown that 3 hours of weight bearing exercise each week can decrease bone loss by as much as 75%. Weight bearing exercise is any exercise where gravity is loading your spine. You need to be on your feet and moving: walking, dancing, aerobics, stair climbing, etc.

Strengthening exercises also can help increase bone density. All muscles have tendons that insert into bone. Anytime you contract a muscle, the tendon pulls on the bone and that sends signals to your brain, telling your brains to send minerals to that bone. When you keep your muscles strong, you keep your bones strong as well.
About the Author
Janice Novak has a Master's Degree in Health & Physical Education and is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker and wellness consultant. Her program improves health, decreases sick days and improves productivity, alertness, energy and motivation. Visit Improve Your Posture.
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