Monday, February 18, 2013

The Miracle of Antioxidants for Reducing Fracture Risk


"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
   --Albert Einstein

I truly do believe that everything is a miracle. I'm constantly in awe of all that I see on this earth and in the stars above. In my work as a chiropractic physician, I regularly witness the human body's spectacular complexity and, if just given the chance, its almost endless innate capacity to heal. On a personal note, it is difficult for me not to see my own recovery from osteoporosis as, well, if not a "miracle" then certainly something pretty darn special. After all, just 10 years ago my skeleton was readily breaking--actually, it was close to crumbling. Just leaning up against a wall could result in a rib fracture. Yet now, my bones are capable of withstanding anything and everything that I put them up to and I've thrown a lot at them lately. From Tough Mudders, to road races, to Ironmans, to moderately heavy weight lifting and even some light boxing, I've certainly put my bones to the test. So you can see how I might consider this improvement to be somewhat special. Recovering from osteoporosis, seeing my skeleton get stronger and my overall health get better, (even as I'm getting older) has been a gift that I will forever be grateful.

But this recovery did not just "happen" and it certainly didn't take place overnight. It took a lot of work. Work that wasn't, hard per se, but it did require total immersion and dedication to "the mission." For me, that mission was one of following a healthy, gluten-free, alkaline diet and taking some important supplements that powerfully affected my bone remodeling system. Antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid*, N-acetyl cysteine*, green tea leaf extracts*, and taurine*, plus other compounds that have the ability to modulate osteoclast activity (bone resorption) and spur osteoblast activity (bone formation) were keys to my success. As I now look back on the ordeal, I can see that much of my improvement came from neutralizing free radicals, stopping the oxidative stress that was destroying my body, and allow it--and my bones--to recover. This is a step most people with osteoporosis will need to take if they are going to reverse their bone loss.

So if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis and your antioxidant systems are not capable of efficiently neutralizing free radicals, (check out my book, The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis, for information on specific lab testing) you are forming an over-abundance of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This excess in ROS can overwhelm your body and create a condition called oxidative stress that damages cells, causes premature aging, and promotes, among other things, excessive bone loss.

Many people think only of cancer when they hear the words, free radicals. But free radicals also promote bone loss. In fact, the more free radicals there are in your body, the more oxidative stress you will have, and the more likely you are to loose bone density and fall into ill health. All chronic disease, whether it be cancer or osteoporosis, or heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer's, they are all fueled by oxidative stress, the major destructive force behind premature aging. Cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, air and water toxins, emotional and physical stress, all promote ROS production and increase oxidative stress. Even going through menopause with its loss of estrogen, contributes to oxidative stress. In fact, Cervellati and colleagues studied 191 women and determined that "menopause-related estrogen withdrawal might contribute to make bone more vulnerable to oxidative injury thereby increasing the risk of PO [post-menopausal osteoporosis] development." What we know for sure is that the less oxidative stress, the healthier you and your bones will be. But how do you do this?

The answer is actually quite simple. In addition to stopping, or at least reducing, any destructive life-style habits, if you change your diet, add in some exercise to your weekly regime, and clear your head of major stress, it IS possible to regain skeletal health and reduce fracture risk. When I say improve your diet, I REALLY mean IMPROVE YOUR DIET! Adding a small salad at lunch to a diet high in acid-forming meat and white potatoes doesn’t cut it. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables (organic where possible, of course) is the best way to increase your intake of bone-healthy phytonutrients and antioxidants. Juicing is an easy and delicious way to get in a few more servings of vegetables. In addition to improving your diet, supplementing with bone healthy compounds is critical. Our OsteoNaturals’ OsteoStim* not only provides you with powerful antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress, but also vitamins and naturally active compounds for balancing bone remodeling.

* OsteoStim: vitamin D3, vitamin K2 (MK4 and MK7), biotin, alpha lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, berberine, green tea leaf extracts, milk basic protein, taurine, and milk thistle.


Cervellati et al. 2012. Bone mass density selectively correlates with serum markers of oxidative damage in post-menopausal women. Clin Chem Lab Med doi:10.1515/cclm-2012-0095.


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