Osteoporosis is a common, debilitating health condition that affects thousands of Americans, particularly women and the elderly. Recent advances in nutrition and hair analysis research have provided exciting information about the causes and correction of osteoporosis.
A common biochemical imbalance that leads to osteoporosis is called fast oxidation. This term was coined by Dr. George Watson, and refers to the burning of food at a faster-than-normal rate. In fast oxidation, thyroid and adrenal gland activity are excessive.
Dr. Eck found that fast oxidation is characterized by low calcium and magnesium levels relative to the sodium and potassium levels. In fast oxidation, the body excretes excessive calcium, magnesium and zinc. The purpose for this action is that lowering the calcium and magnesium levels enhances reflexes and increases brain activity in preparation for what is called a fight-flight reaction.
While the alarm or fight-flight reaction is normal and healthy for short periods of time, if it persists due to chronic stress or other imbalances in body chemistry, calcium, magnesium and zinc reserves become depleted. Calcium is then withdrawn from the bones to replenish blood calcium reserves.
Copper is also frequently deficient in the fast oxidizer. Copper is essential for calcium retention in the bones. For this reason, replenishing calcium without giving copper will not be sufficient to prevent osteoporosis. It is known that estrogens will help stop osteoporosis. Estrogen levels correlate directly with copper levels. It may be the copper that produces the beneficial effect of estrogen therapy.
For those in fast oxidation (overactive adrenal and thyroid glands), supplementation with calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper is all essential to prevent and possibly reverse osteoporosis.
It is known that a magnesium deficiency in the fast oxidizer leads to increased secretion of cortisone, which in turn increases the breakdown and turnover of bone tissue. Increased cortisone secretion and cortisone administration are closely associated with demineralization of bone.
Exercise and moderate physical stress on the bones results in a strengthening of bone structures. However, excessive stress, especially if it is chronic, can further elevate cortisone levels, thus aggravating the tendency for bone demineralization.
Studies on women runners revealed that those who exercised moderately had improved bone density, while those who exercised more than a certain amount tended to have lower estrogen levels and lower bone density.
Decreased alkalinity of the tissues may also contribute to osteoporosis. Increased tissue acidity increases urinary excretion of calcium. Presumably the reason is that acidity leads to greater solubility of calcium. Fast oxidizers tend toward an acidic condition because their rapid rate of metabolism generates acidic metabolic end-products such as lactic acid.
The hair analysis of the fast oxidizer reveals an elevated sodium and potassium level. Elevated sodium and potassium aggravate calcium loss by enhancing the solubility of calcium.
A high potassium level on a hair analysis is also a fairly reliable indicator of high cortisone levels.
A diet high in meat and bread products contains high amounts of phosphorus. Phosphorus, by binding calcium, prevents its absorption. High-phosphorus foods include meats, grains, nuts and seeds. Dairy products and vegetables are lower in phosphorus, which improves the availability of calcium from these food sources.
Caffeine and sugar were shown to increase calcium excretion in the urine (Nutr. Res. 8 (9):1005-1012, 1988). Soft drinks are particularly detrimental because they contain high levels of phosphorus, caffeine and sugar.
Osteoporosis also occurs in another biochemical state called slow oxidation. In this state the adrenal and thyroid glands are underactive. Hair samples from these individuals reveal elevated calcium and magnesium levels, together with low sodium and potassium levels.
In this situation, calcium is not adequately retained in the blood. Sodium and potassium are solvent elements that help maintain calcium in an ionized form in the blood. When sodium and potassium levels diminish, there is a tendency for calcium to leave the blood and precipitate into the tissues. As the blood calcium level diminishes, calcium is withdrawn from the bones to keep the blood calcium level adequate. Over a period of time osteoporosis can develop.
The underactive thyroid activity in the slow oxidizer often results in overactive parathyroid glands. Hyperparathyroidism causes calcium to be mobilized from the bones into the blood.
Slow oxidizers commonly have low blood sugar levels. This is due primarily to low levels of cortisone. Cortisone, being a glucocorticoid hormone is one mechanism responsible for maintaining adequate blood sugar levels. People with low blood sugar frequently crave sweets. It is known that diets high in refined sugars, especially soft drinks, can adversely affect the calcium balance.
Slow oxidizers also commonly suffer from food sensitivities, often a sensitivity to milk and other dairy products. For this reason, many of these people avoid milk products which are a good source of calcium. Unless an effort is made to include other calcium-rich foods, the diet is low in key bone-building elements including calcium and magnesium.
Most slow oxidizers have a deficiency of available copper. The copper-binding proteins are not produced in sufficient quantity due to low adrenal gland activity. As a result, copper is not able to be utilized adequately. Since copper is essential for the retention of calcium in the bones, bio-unavailability of copper contributes to demineralization of the bones. Slow oxidizers are often deficient in zinc and manganese; two elements needed for bone growth. There is also commonly a deficiency of available magnesium. Although magnesium may appear high in the hair tissue, it is not available for use. Magnesium is essential for normal calcium metabolism. To make matters worse, magnesium is frequently deficient in modern diets.
Slow oxidizers are commonly plagued with toxic metal poisoning. As will be explained in the next section, toxic metals often play a role in the development of osteoporosis.
Lead poisoning is also commonly associated with bone problems. Lead interferes with calcium metabolism and can replace calcium in storage sites.
Studies indicate that a wide range of nutrients are involved in bone formation and bone maintenance. We have discussed the importance of calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. Boron appears to assist calcium retention in the bones. Vitamin C is required for maintenance of the bone matrix. Vitamin D assists in calcium absorption. The adrenal glands require still other nutrients such as pantothenic acid and vitamins A and E.
Fluoride has been tried as a treatment for osteoporosis. A major study reported in Medical World News, pp. 42-43, Oct. 23, 1989, showed increased bone density with calcium fluoride, but no reduction in fractures in 135 post-menopausal women. This is not a surprising result because fluoride is known to form a brittle bone structure. Fluoride therapy also carries risks of undesirable side effects.
Many of the causes of osteoporosis are well understood. Through the proper use of hair analysis, often a trend or tendency for osteoporosis can be identified years before symptoms appear. This trend may then be reversed through nutrition to alleviate the problem.
When symptoms have already appeared, we are often able to prevent worsening of bone demineralization. We have also seen remineralization of bone, although this is not commonly thought to be possible.
Proper maintenance of our bone structures requires a wide variety of nutrients, many of which are deficient in modern refined-food diets. Exercise also appears to offer benefits. However, excessive stress (even excessive exercise), can worsen the tendency for osteoporosis.
Prevention and nutritional correction of osteoporosis begins with a diet of high-quality natural foods and a regular exercise program. This is most important for women, who are more prone to osteoporosis. Hair analysis can then be used to guide the design of a diet and a supplement program to address each individual's particular deficiencies and imbalances.