(NaturalNews) The key to maintaining healthy, strong bones does not necessarily involve taking high-dose calcium supplements or medicating yourself with osteoporosis drugs. Both of these approaches, in fact, can cause more harm than good if used indiscriminately, especially when other dietary and lifestyle factors that involve the root causes of bone loss remain unaddressed. Here are five nutrition and lifestyle-based approaches that will help correct and prevent bone loss at any age without the need for prescription drugs or mega-doses of calcium:
1) Balance your hormone levels. Even though their composition includes the calcium mineral, your bones do not become stronger simply by downing calcium pills every day. According to Dr. Al Sears, M.D., one of the primary causes of weak bones and age-related bone loss is actually hormone imbalance. It turns out that estrogen, testosterone, and other natural hormones are key regulators of bone health and breakdown, which means getting these hormones in proper balance is the first step towards long-term bone health.
"Bone building is hormonal," wrote Dr. Sears in a 2009 paper on bone health. "In women, estrogens are the main regulators of bone health and breakdown. Progesterone controls the rate of new bone deposition. But the most powerful bone builder in both men and women is testosterone. Testosterone is central for achieving maximal bone mass and strength." (http://www.alsearsmd.com/calcium-supplements-bones/)
2) Supplement with magnesium, zinc, iodine, and trace minerals. One of the best ways to balance your hormones and boost testosterone levels naturally is to avoid estrogenic foods like soy that tend to disrupt proper hormone balance, as well as supplement with synergistic, hormone-balancing nutrients like magnesium, zinc, iodine, and trace mineral complexes. Most Americans are grossly deficient in iodine because, with the exception of iodized salt (which contains very little usable iodine anyway), most foods in the modern American diet lack this important element. And without enough iodine, your thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing thyroid hormones and regulating calcium balance, fails to function as it should. (http://www.umm.edu/endocrin/thygland.htm)
Many people are also deficient in both magnesium and zinc, two vitally important minerals for the appropriate production of hormones. Magnesium is absolutely vital for your body to properly metabolize food and generate usable energy, as well as facilitate proper digestion and the development of bone tissue. Likewise, zinc is essential for the proper function of the endocrine system, as well as the balanced and sustained production of necessary hormones. These two minerals taken in conjunction with iodine and essential trace minerals are a recipe for healthy hormones and healthy bones. (http://www.charlespoliquin.com)
3) Engage in weight-bearing exercises regularly. Physical inactivity is another major contributing factor to weak bones and bone loss. In order for your body to know that it needs to continue producing more bone tissue, you have to actually use your body. This means regularly engaging in weight-bearing activities that put pressure not only on your bones but also on your muscles. This pressure actually trains your body to fortify bone mass naturally, and it works especially well when combined with the other dietary suggestions outlined here.
Dr. Sears suggests doing weight-bearing calisthenics exercises like pushups, pullups, and lunges, as well as resistance training, two or three times a week to promote stronger bones. Studies also show that walking, cycling, and playing sports can help strengthen bones and discourage bone fractures. Physical movement, in other words, is always a good thing when it comes to bone health.
4) Get plenty of vitamin D from the sun, tanning beds, or supplements. If vitamin D got the same media attention as calcium supplements do with regards to bone health, osteoporosis and other related bone conditions would be much more rare. Vitamin D, it turns out, is the primary vehicle through which the body is able to absorb not only calcium, but also phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and the many other nutrients your body needs to build strong and healthy bones. (http://www.denverpost.com/food/ci_10711873)
Many people are deficient in vitamin D; however, which means their bodies are missing one of the key ingredients for healthy bones. Supplementing with daily doses of vitamin D3 around 10,000 international units (IU), and even as high as 20,000 IU, or making sure to regularly expose your skin to natural sunlight without sunscreen, will help ensure you maintain optimal vitamin D levels (http://www.vitamindcouncil.org). The Vitamin D Council has a vitamin D test kit that will help you determine whether or not your vitamin D levels are in a healthy range. (https://vitamindcouncil.zrtlab.com/)
5) Supplement with bone herbs, bone-building tea. If all this is not enough, you can also supplement with bone herbs like the "Strong Bones" formula developed by Ron Teeguarden's Dragon Herbs. This particular blend contains 10 unique seeds, roots, bark, and bone that together help fortify bone structure. You can also steep and drink bone-building teas like the one created by Mother Earth Living. (http://www.motherearthliving.com)