Bone Density in Female Runners

"The Reversal of Osteopenia in Two Women using Weight Bearing Exercise and a Mineral Transport System"

James A. McHale, D.C. Director, Atlantic Regional Osteoporosis Specialists, P.C. drmchale.com

Barbara Andrews, C.W. M.P. Certified Weight Management Professional The Institute of Weight Management and Health

Karen Scanlon, Holistic Health Practitioner, AADP

Jeffery Turner, D.C.

Peer Reviewed by: Philip Pappas, PhD William Kelley, M.S.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a crippling, debilitating, and often deadly disease. Bone is lost at a rate faster than the body can replace it. This deficit causes weakening of the skeletal system, which can lead to fractures.

What is osteopenia?

Osteopenia is the condition of bone weakness that occurs before osteoporosis. The bones are beginning to thin, and the risk of fracture is increasing. If not reversed or improved, people suffering from osteopenia may develop full blown osteoporosis.

How do we measure it?

Bone mass measurement assesses bone density, which helps determine the status of:

Normal, Strong Bone Early Stage Bone Loss/Weakening (osteopenia) Osteoporotic Condition (Thin/Porous/Unstable Bone)

Testing was performed using the Norland Apollo® portable bone densitometer. This specialized diagnostic unit generates a dual emission x-ray (D.E.X.A.), and is safe, fast, painless and accurate. The heel bone (os calcis) is used because of several factors:

The heel (calcaneus) has an extremely similar bone mineral density pattern to the hip. Access to the heel is relatively easy, and the test takes only fifteen seconds. This testing site has a high degree of precision and accuracy. Heel testing makes it possible to trend and manage ongoing bone building programs (weight training, resistance training, walking, running, and mineral supplementation).

The D.E.X.A. scanner generates a "T" score, which compares the patient’s bone mass to that of a young patients of the same gender and ethnic background.

*Thin, petite, Caucasian and Asian females are at high risk for developing osteoporosis.

T-score values according to the World Health Organization:

Zero to –1 is essentially normal, with an associated low risk of fracture.

–1.1 to –2.4 indicates bone loss; this condition is true osteopenia, with an associated medium risk of fracture.

Scores –2.5 and below are considered to be true osteoporosis, and the risk of fracture is high.

How serious is the problem of osteoporosis in America?

The osteoporosis statistics, according to The National Osteoporosis Foundation:

Half of American women over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis, affecting 25 million Americans.

More than 1.5 million osteoporosis related fractures occur annually. More than 300,000 hip fractures are related to osteoporosis. Half of all women will suffer from an osteoporosis fracture. Hip fracture is the most serious consequence of osteoporosis. (up to 50 percent of all hip fracture victims will never walk again)

(up to 25 percent of all hip fracture victims will die within one year)

More women die each year in the U.S. from osteoporosis fracture complications than from breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer combined.

About 80 percent of osteoporosis sufferers are female. The annual cost to the American Health Care System is $13 billion annually.

How important is bone density testing?

In 1998 The United States Congress passed the Bone Mass Measurement Act.

"In general, bone mass measurements…are considered to be the most valuable objective indicator of the risk of fracture and/or osteoporosis."

Bone Density Study Data:

Baseline bone density scores were obtained on February 12, 2002 on two Caucasian females, ages 26 and 39. The 26 year old female will be referred to as T-Score "A".

The 39 year old female will be referred to as T-Score "B".

D.E.X.A. Testing of the right heel of T-Score "A" produced a result of –1.2 (osteopenia).

D.E.X.A. Testing of the right heel of T-Score "B" produced a result of –1.41 (osteopenia).

Follow-up studies performed on July 16, 2002 revealed:

D.E.X.A. Testing of the right heel of T-Score "A" produced a result of –0.3 (normal).

D.E.X.A. Testing of the right heel of T-Score "B" produced a result of –0.9 (normal).

Exercise and Supplementation Data:

Both women engaged in a structured load bearing exercise program that included warm-up, aerobic exercise, strength training, cool down, and stretching. The weight bearing exercise component uses circuit hydraulic resistance. Hydraulic resistance is safe, and accommodating. Pushing and pulling may reduce the potential for soreness and injury. The training program lasted thirty minutes per session, three times per week.

Mineral supplementation consisted of three liquid filled softgels per day which provided:

Calcium Citrate 1200 milligrams
Magnesium Oxide 450 milligrams
Vitamin D-3 (as Cholecalciferol) 240 IU
Orotic Acid (Mineral Transporter) 75 milligrams
Silica 30 milligrams
Zinc (as Zinc Citrate) 6 milligrams
Manganese (as Manganese Aspartate) 3 milligrams
Boron 3 milligrams
Folic Acid 120 micrograms
Chromium (as Chromium Picolinate) 60 micrograms
Vitamin K-1 (as Phytonadione) 21 micrograms


Multimineral preparations in liquid-filled soft gels have a significantly higher rate of absorption in comparison to their tablet counterparts. Softgels are easily digested at normal body temperature and stomach-gastrointestinal tract acidity. In order for the components to exert the maximum physiologic effect, they must be made bioavailable.

This concept of bioavailability is crucial for improving bone density. Many products on the market are not broken down by normal digestive processes, and may pass through the body undigested. These preparations may not allow for maximum absorption of the bone-building components, and improvements in bone density will be minimized.

More in-depth information regarding the physiologic function of the individual components of the multimineral preparation is available at drmchale.com, left click on Cal-Flo.

"What about the calcium in foods?"

Americans consume huge volumes of calcium, yet suffer extremely high rates of osteoporosis. Calcium supplements are beneficial, especially when combined with other essential nutrients. A balanced diet of whole, fresh foods that are rich in minerals are crucial to maintaining bone health.

Vegetables-especially the leafy green variety like broccoli, cabbage, dark lettuces, collard, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, watercress, and dandelion
Whole, unprocessed grains
Legumes
Nuts
Sprouted seeds and beans
Salads with lemon juice or cider vinegar (aids in calcium absorption)
Seaweed


"What foods should be avoided?"

A diet high in protein-especially from meat and other animal sources-should be changed. Foods such as oxalic acid, insoluble fiber, and phosphates may block or impede the absorption of calcium, and may produce a highly acidic condition of the body. The stronger the acid condition, the more calcium is need to normalize and balance the blood. If the diet lacks calcium, the body goes to reserves. These reserves may be in the bones. Because of this phenomenon, osteoporosis is often viewed as a "condition of drain", rather than "lack".**

Much can be achieved simply by reducing the intake of foods that leach calcium from the bones.

Coffee
Meat
Alcohol
Cigarettes
*Soda

*Soda contains phosphoric acid—able to strip paint off cars. Some municipalities use phosphoric acid to remove blood from the roadway of accident scenes. The material is so caustic that it must be labeled as a biohazard when it is transported.

**Food and Healing, Annemarie Colbin, Ballentine Books, 1996, p. 159

Discussion

It is exciting to see such dramatic changes in bone density in less than six months. In addition to improved bone density, many additional health benefits can be derived from a structured exercise regimen. Balance, coordination, muscle and ligament strength and flexibility improve, which may reduce the likelihood of falling. Also, the ability to absorb the impact of a fall may be improved with the addition of muscle mass. Let’s not forget that the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems benefit also.

A larger study is currently underway to assess the effect of exercise and multimineral supplementation on bone density. Based on preliminary data, it is clear that weight bearing exercise and liquid multimineral supplementation can reverse osteopenia in some females. END

Questions or Comments? mrmack2@yahoo.com