Bone Loss

What Causes Bone Loss?

In order to deal properly with bone loss we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow bone loss to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind bone loss consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to bone loss.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Acidosis
  • Anorexia/Starvation Tendency
  • Increased Folic Acid Need
  • Vitamin A Need
  • Nutritional Deficiency
  • High Cortisol Levels
  • Hypothyroidism

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
hypothyroidism
significant abdominal distension
very low free T4
meal-induced pain for over a month
much reduced sense of smell
elevated TSH
moderate abdominal pain
frequent unexplained fevers
being an unsocial person
severe right iliac pain
frequent colds/flus
weak sexual desire
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of bone loss:
Cause Probability Status
Anorexia/Starvation Tendency 99% Confirm
Increased Folic Acid Need 18% Unlikely
Hypothyroidism 14% Unlikely
High Cortisol Levels 1% Ruled out
Vitamin A Need 0% Ruled out
Acidosis 0% Ruled out
Ulcerative Colitis 0% Ruled out
Nutritional Deficiency 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Has a bone scan, X-ray or specialty urine test indicated that bone loss (Osteoporosis) is a problem for you?
Possible responses:
→ Have not had this test / don't know
→ No bone loss indicated (normal)
→ Bone loss indicated / not currently losing bone
→ Bone loss indicated / currently losing bone
→ Significant loss indicated / losing at a high rate
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate normal bone density, bone loss being controlled, bone loss continuing or bone loss advanced / rapid, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Acidosis

Acidic diets (high in protein and refined food) will cause bone calcium leaching in order to maintain your blood pH balance.  Chronic leeching of calcium from the bones increases the likelihood of osteoporosis.  [Am.  J.  Clin.  Nutr.  2001: 73, pp.118-122, Lancet 1968:1, pp.958-959]

Gluten Sensitivity / Celiac Disease

A study concluded that reduced mineralization occurs even in asymptomatic celiac patients, and that early diagnosis and treatment can prevent bone demineralization.  [Am J Gastroenterol 1994;89: pp.2130-4]

Hyperparathyroidism

Patients may have thinning of the bones without symptoms, but with risk of fractures.

Low Male Testosterone Level

Some 30% of men with spinal osteoporosis have long-standing testosterone deficiency, and one-third of men with testosterone deficiency have subnormal bone density that puts them at risk of fractures.

Manganese Requirement

Individuals with osteoporosis sometimes have low blood levels of manganese.  [Raloff J.  Reasons for boning up on manganese.  Science Sep 1986, 199 [review]]

Aerobic Exercise Need

A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of suffering from osteoporosis later in life.  Exercise strengthens bones – inactivity encourages the body not to rebuild unused resources.

Anorexia / Starvation Tendency

The common medical complications of anorexia/starvation include osteoporosis.

Atrophic Gastritis

Stomach acid is required to enhance the absorption of minerals such as calcium.  Reduced calcium absorption encourages bone loss.

Calcium Requirement

When body stores of calcium are low, the body must draw calcium from the bones in order to avoid serious complications.

Cigarette Smoke Damage

The evidence is overwhelming: smoking boosts bone loss and is therefore a risk factor for osteoporosis and for bone fractures in general.

Consequences of Poor Diet

Excess salt and sugar, found in junk foods, leach calcium from the bones into the urine.

Elevated Cortisol Levels

If a woman is not ovulating she may have lower estrogen and progesterone levels.  Low estrogen levels can increase the activity of osteoclasts (bone breakdown cells) while low progesterone has been shown to increase PMS symptoms and slow bone deposition.  Also, to provide the extra calcium needed when faced with intense stress situation, cortisol can directly stimulate bone breakdown cells.  Unchecked over a long period of time, high cortisol levels can cause you to lose bone faster than you can rebuild it.

Excess Protein Consumption

High protein intakes may lead to loss of calcium, leading in turn to the development of osteoporosis.

Fluoride Toxicity

Fluorides destroy collagen, which is the glue that adds strength to the bones.

Folic Acid Deficiency

Folate (folic acid) and the B-vitamins involved in homocysteine conversion (such as B12 and B6) may be beneficial in reducing the risk of osteoporosis because high levels of homocysteine are implicated in chronic diseases such as osteoporosis.

Hyperthyroidism

Untreated hyperthyroidism accelerates bone resorption, reduces bone density, and over time increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Hypothyroidism

People with hypothyroidism can develop osteoporosis if they are taking too much thyroid hormone.

Nutritional Deficiency

Trace minerals are necessary for the transport and absorption of calcium.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to researchers, women with rheumatoid arthritis have up to double the risk of developing osteoporosis and those who use steroid drugs to help control the arthritis are at an even higher risk of bone loss.  [Arthritis and Rheumatism, March 2000]

Ulcerative Colitis

Scientists believe osteoporosis may occur when the immune system triggers inflammation in other parts of the body.  These problems are usually mild and go away when the colitis is treated.

Vitamin B12 Requirement

Researchers at the University of California devised a study to determine if low levels of vitamin B-12 might be associated with bone loss in older women.  Results showed that women with the lowest levels of B-12 had a significantly higher risk of bone loss and fractures compared to women with the highest levels.  The researchers also noted that for some women, B-12 supplements may help slow the rate of bone loss.

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