This is just copy and paste of an account I wrote to keep track of things for myself. Please note I have no medical training and I haven't checked to see if the web links at the end still work. I think most will.
Since writing this account I've had a second DXA scan showing that within a year my bone density improved from -2 to -1.6. This was the main measurement at the hip, but all the measurements improved, including the spine. They are no longer recommending that I take drugs and next scan should be in 3 to 5 years. My doctor was amazed and asked me how I did it!
Background – “high risk” small-boned Caucasian female over 65, taking prednisone for polymyalgia rheumatica since June 2015, suffered broken leg (tibial plateau) when leg was severely twisted when I walked on ice February 2014. My T-score is -2.0 but I am in the high risk category. When starting prednisone I was told that bone thinning was an effect of prednisone so I took my calcium and Vitamin D supplements, bought a pedometer and started walking more. It was at my request that I finally had a scan in September where the osteopenia was diagnosed. Even when I had the broken leg no one suggested a scan would be a good idea. All I knew was that the bone healed rapidly and well, I had not needed surgery.
After the diagnosis my GP recommended medication but by then I had started hearing about the potential for horrific side effects, so turned her down and started serious research. I started by talking to my friends. Two of them had successfully moved from osteoporosis range into osteopenia through non-medical means. One remains faithful to her regimen and continues to improve, the other has slacked off and become osteoporotic again. Suggestions from the more dedicated person included Nordic walking and parkour but she does not have polymyalgia (PMR). She also has taken various supplements under the advice of a herbalist. I am not ruling out her methods but am not completely following in her path. I took up Nordic walking about three months ago. I tell you about her because her experience is what gives me real hope that “natural” methods work. A sister-in-law was taking Fosamax but had to discontinue because of side effects (I don’t know what the side effects were).
I have done a lot of reading. You will find several good sites on the internet but if they are heavily promoting certain products it is a good idea to balance their advice with what you read elsewhere. I am convinced that the following regimen is the best for me, and I expect to be adding to this, and modifying things, as I continue to learn more:
Exercise: I have a weighted walking vest which allows me to gradually add small amounts of weight. This is to challenge the skeleton to lay down more bone. I am learning Tai Chi which is not only excellent for improving balance (helps to avoid those bone-breaking falls) but has been shown to improve bone density. I use my pedometer to make sure I get 10,000 steps a day. At present this includes all my daily activity, not just my walks. I may increase this in the future. I also carry on with long-standing physio exercises for osteoarthritis and practice a bit of yoga.
Diet: Because another bad side effect of prednisone can be diabetes I have to be rather careful with my food choices, but as long as you are eating a well-balanced diet you can consider adding the following supplements:
Calcium hydroxyapatite (preferred because it is most easily absorbed into human tissue and I've read that it is more readily absorbed by people on steroids) but calcium citrate also a good choice.
Vitamin D3 (Iately I’ve had to cut back D and calcium because of too high levels of D, possibly caused by unrelated ailment, sarcoidosis, an issue which will not affect many people)
Vitamin K2 (K2-4 and/orK2-7, K2-7 is preferred) Please note that Vitamin K2 (not K1) is nearly absent from modern diets, and is the vitamin that guides calcium into our bones rather than letting it collect in our organs or inside our blood vessels. Unless you have access to grass fed cattle and their products, and free range hens eggs (not grain fed) you will almost certainly need to supplement this vitamin.
Sources of Vitamin A betterbones.com/bonenutriti... I have read conflicting advice about whether retinol or beta carotene is better, and have decided that natural sources (food, or maybe cod liver oil) are safer choices than taking a chance with the latest fad in supplements.
You should have enough vitamin E in your regular diet, otherwise make sure you get a mixed tocopherol version
Magnesium which is also something many of us are deficient in. Apparently calcium interferes with absorption of magnesium so a separate supplement may be a good idea for a while until deficiency is dealt with. Lots of foods have magnesium although as with so much these days it depends on the soil they’re grown in.
I am taking a bone strengthening supplement from our local organic foods store, also Vitamin K2 supplement. I also take cod liver oil for the A and D content. (editing belatedly in 2022: I haven't taken cod liver oil for a long time as I discovered I tend to run a high D level - an effect of (asymptomatic) sarcoidosis. Also it isn't necessary to add Vitamin A supplements if your diet contains good sources of A - by far the healthiest way to get Vitamin A.) I don’t think I’ll have much luck with a reliable source of genuine free range eggs until spring, but at least I know what to look for then. (Yes, I do eat prunes for the boron, but I don't believe the hype that they "cure" osteoporosis!) The reading I have done includes websites and books. As I indicated above, always read with a critical eye and take the best ideas from everywhere. I don’t think anyone has all the answers, and also we are each different, will have varying risk factors and so forth. But I hope my experience gives you some ideas, and also some ammunition as you withstand the medical profession’s strangely strong idea that we must take their dangerous medicines!
A YOUTUBE VIDEO DESCRIBING VERY MUCH THE PROTOCOL I'VE OUTLINED, WITH ADDITION OF FACTS FROM THE PRESENTING PHYSICIAN, SUCH AS MEDICATIONS AND OTHER RISK FACTORS WHICH CAN LEAD TO BONE THINNING. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:
Kate Rheaume-Bleue, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox
Lara Pizzorno, Strong Bones (good book but she undermines her credibility by promoting certain supplements and a specific Zumba version)
Dennis Goodman, Vitamin K2 the Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Health
Dean, Carolyn, The Magnesium Miracle (2014 edition)
saveourbones.com/about/ BUT note authoritynutrition.com/the-... Also, as I do more reading I begin to wonder if she is as up to date with recent research as she should be. There are some good exercises on her website, however.
hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2... This article is encouraging because it shows we don't always need drugs, but they do mention taking strontium citrate. Although this is probably safer than strontium ranelate (which is a manmade version so it could be patented) I personally would not recommend it. Strontium is heavier than calcium, replaces calcium in the bones. DXA readings become inaccurate. I don't know if it makes bones stronger, but I do know we need calcium for a lot of processes in our bodies.