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Can paleo help osteoperosis?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM

Hey all, I'm pretty new to the world of Paleo, having just read the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, listened to a handful of his podcasts, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, LeanGains, and other such blogs.

I've been eating paleo + goat dairy (as well as ~1T of 18% cream in my morning cup of coffee) for approximately a week now - read: NEWBIE! - and have already started to notice a difference in my skin and nails, which are growing like weeds and looking so strong and healthy!

Anyhow, two years ago I suffered from a femoral neck stress while running a marathon which later fully broke and lead to my diagnosis of osteoperosis. At the time, I was eating close to a paleo diet; very low carb, few processed foods, a lot of whole and organic foods, but likely not enough healthy fats. I still run and am addicted to "chronic cardio" marathoning, although I have toned back my mileage, increased my walking and light cardio activities and have begun a strength training regimne 2-3 days per week.

I have been put on calcium, vitamin d, and other "natural" supplements by my doctor to try and slow down my rate of bone loss, however it doesn't seem to be working and they can't put me on any osteoperosis medication as I am a 25 year old female who is looking to conceive in the near future.

My question, is whether or not a Paleo lifestyle can help slow down my rate of bone loss, or even improve my condition. Also, as I already suffer from osteoperosis, would you recommend removing dairy from my diet completely or increasing?

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 01, 2012
at 05:08 PM

Not sure about that. Probably at least a few months, but I really don't know...

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 04:02 PM

I quite agree, it's frustrating, but I think all we can do is read up for ourselves, supplement, eat well and hope for the best! All I can say is having read about biophosphonate drugs, like Fosamax which my mum is on there is no way I am going on those! Dr Cate Shanahan's website (http://drcate.com/) has some good articles on bone-builders and I think osteoporosis too as well as children/childbirth/pregnancy etc. I also keep meaning to check out Ray Peat's stuff although he is controversial here, he has certainly written on osteoporosis. As you say *sigh*!

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:45 PM

shrug their shoulders and close my file. I do start to see a fertility clinic next month though and am very curious as to what he has to say. Every now and then I think I'm making headway (I had a doctor monitor my urine pH in the am thinking I was running acidic due to my protein intake levels, but no... I'm fairly alkaline; and once a doc. thought it could be cortisol levels, but no, that was normal too), but it never seems to really correlate. I just don't know. SIGH!

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:42 PM

... consuming ~2000-2500 calories, but perhaps it was not enough?). I know now that my fat and protein should have probably been a lot higher than they were at the time though! Regardless, I have a feeling that the lifelong amennohrea combined with the stress of training lead to the osteoperosis, if I didn't already have osteopenia to begin with. What really frustrates me is that the doctors continuously "give up" on me, that is to say, I will be referred to a new specialist, they will run their standard series of tests, and when everything comes back relatively normal they will just ...

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Holy quick answers Karen :) I just picked up a few bottles of Yarrow's K2 (M7 variety) from iherb, I am rather excited to add it to my little vitamin arsenal. As far as why I have osteoperosis so young... not sure. It still hasn't been figured out. I have had amennohrea for years and years and years and the doctors never really looked too deeply into it (despite the fact that I KNEW something was wrong) until I fractured my femoral neck. The doctors think it was because I was training for marathon and not fueling my body properly (I was calorie counting at the time and was always ...

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:18 PM

Also, last thought, do you know why you have osteoporosis so young? I was anorexic and my mother has it which explains it but its got worse not better recently and my parathyroid hormone levels are high which basically means I might have an overactive gland which is taking too much calcium from my bones (the job of the parathyroid glands). If this is the case for me I might have an op to remove an overactive one and in theory the calcium should go back into my bones. Might be worth having your PTH levels tested. Are celiac or any other condition that might mean you're not absorbing vitamins?

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:12 PM

...with K2 in them. I also have a little raw milk in tea. I'm looking at K2 supplements over and above diet and the butter oil although apparently you don't need much but of course it all depends on how well you absorb it. I think it's more important in winter when egg yolks, butter etc have less of it because the cows are not on fresh pasture. I'm not sure about how much calcium is enough in fact I posted a question about what amounts you need to make sure calcium and magnesium are in balance but no replies yet. Chris Masterjohn's stuff is excellent, definitely read up!

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:08 PM

Hi Sarah-Mae, I take 600 or 800 mg of magnesium citrate, 4,000 IU of D3 and the fermented cod liver oil I take has D in it too, anywhere up to 19,50 IU but it is not exact nor is it all D3 apparently. I'm taking a lot of D as I had my levels tested and they were really low when my daughter was small and have taken a while to get back into the normal range. It is essential you get tested although if you run outside a lot you might be ok! The FCLO has A and some omega 3 but I'm keen to get most from my diet. I don't take calcium but am actually trying to eat cheese most days, especially those..

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 02:51 PM

Thank you so much for linking! I will definitely be heading to my supplement boutique to track down K2. Just out of curiosity, how long do you think it will take to start seeing any form of results in my bone density? Months? Years? I have annual bone density scans performed by my MO and would love to blow him away by improving for once!

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 02:48 PM

Hi Karen, Thanks for your response! I am 5'5" and ~120lbs, not underweight, but very lean. I also have no problems with dairy that I've observed. What quantity of the vitamins are you taking? I'm currently on: -Ultimate One Active Women multi -Calcium carbonate: 500mg -Magnesium citrate: 800mg -Vitamin D-3: 1600IU -Glucosamine sulfate: 500mg -Folic acid: 800mcg -Shark cartilage: 1500mg -Kelp varech (iodine): 150mcg -Omega-3 oil: ~3100mg Thank you for the K2 suggestion, I will definitely head to my local supplement boutique and try and track some down!

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on June 30, 2012
at 11:12 PM

Yes you can improve your condition, according to Chris Masterjohn - you have to take the Vit D, A, K2 too, however. www.westonaprice.org/blogs/cmasterjohn/2010/12/16/is-vitamin-d-safe-still-depends-on-vitamins-a-and-k-testimonials-and-a-human-study/ Search his blog for lots of info.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on June 30, 2012
at 10:41 PM

please make a question out of title or it will be closed

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4 Answers

1
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 01, 2012
at 04:15 AM

First of all, I definitely think a paleo diet can improve your condition.

These nutrients are really important to bone health: calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, adequate protein, and (most important IMO) vitamin K2.

The following decrease calcium absorption when consumed with it: oxalic acid, insoluble fibers, and magnesium. Some people say the same of phytic acid/phytate but I'm not really convinced it has that much of an effect.

I say keep the dairy unless you suspect you have an intolerance. But avoid eating seeds, nuts, coffee, spinach, and chocolate with it.

I wrote this answer in a bit of a rush, so ask me and I'll elaborate or provide sources for things I've said here.

1
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:41 AM

VITAMIN K2.

Please see my reply to this post:

Osteopenia & Calcium

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 01, 2012
at 05:08 PM

Not sure about that. Probably at least a few months, but I really don't know...

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 02:51 PM

Thank you so much for linking! I will definitely be heading to my supplement boutique to track down K2. Just out of curiosity, how long do you think it will take to start seeing any form of results in my bone density? Months? Years? I have annual bone density scans performed by my MO and would love to blow him away by improving for once!

0
F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

on July 01, 2012
at 05:58 AM

Hi, I have osteoporosis too (I'm 38, originally diagnosed at 31). I take magnesium, Vitamin D, High-vitamin butter oil (which contains K2 though I may separately supplement with K2 also) but no calcium. I do, however eat dairy, not masses but I do eat raw, aged cheeses, some of which (gouda for exmaple, Dragonfly put me onto this) contain K2. Foie Gras also contains masses of K2 if you like it, don't have any ethical issues with it (and can afford it!)

One thing I would say if you are trying to have kids is REALLY make sure you're vitamin levels (especially D) are high enough and do eat dairy if you tolerate it when pregnant and breast-feeding. I went from osteopenia to full-blown osteoporosis whilst carrying and then extended breast-feeding my two children. Though breast-feeding is thought to be protective of osteoporosis over the long term if all your D is flowing out in the milk (as mine was) it won't be!

As long as you keep away from oxalic acid, as Mscott says, whilst actually eating calcium, it shouldn't be a problem - I would be tempted to drop the calcium supplement and replace with food, there is a lot of controversy over their effectiveness.

Lastly, I don't know what you weight is, maybe low if you are a marathoner, but my weight was far too low in certain periods of my life, including just before I conceived my first child and I'm sure that had a negative effect. Eating 95% paleo has seen me settle at around 130 lbs (I'm a fraction under 5'8) which I maintain whilst still eating plenty. I've actually now decided I'd rather be a little heavier, even than I am now, if it means strong bones and am making sure I have plenty of good fats like butter which, if pastured, also contain K2.

Good luck with it all, I was really upset to be diagnosed so young but if you look after yourself, at 25 you may well be able to actually build some bone density back, just make sure you get enough nutrients for yourself as well as your growing babies!

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:45 PM

shrug their shoulders and close my file. I do start to see a fertility clinic next month though and am very curious as to what he has to say. Every now and then I think I'm making headway (I had a doctor monitor my urine pH in the am thinking I was running acidic due to my protein intake levels, but no... I'm fairly alkaline; and once a doc. thought it could be cortisol levels, but no, that was normal too), but it never seems to really correlate. I just don't know. SIGH!

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:42 PM

... consuming ~2000-2500 calories, but perhaps it was not enough?). I know now that my fat and protein should have probably been a lot higher than they were at the time though! Regardless, I have a feeling that the lifelong amennohrea combined with the stress of training lead to the osteoperosis, if I didn't already have osteopenia to begin with. What really frustrates me is that the doctors continuously "give up" on me, that is to say, I will be referred to a new specialist, they will run their standard series of tests, and when everything comes back relatively normal they will just ...

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 02:48 PM

Hi Karen, Thanks for your response! I am 5'5" and ~120lbs, not underweight, but very lean. I also have no problems with dairy that I've observed. What quantity of the vitamins are you taking? I'm currently on: -Ultimate One Active Women multi -Calcium carbonate: 500mg -Magnesium citrate: 800mg -Vitamin D-3: 1600IU -Glucosamine sulfate: 500mg -Folic acid: 800mcg -Shark cartilage: 1500mg -Kelp varech (iodine): 150mcg -Omega-3 oil: ~3100mg Thank you for the K2 suggestion, I will definitely head to my local supplement boutique and try and track some down!

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:18 PM

Also, last thought, do you know why you have osteoporosis so young? I was anorexic and my mother has it which explains it but its got worse not better recently and my parathyroid hormone levels are high which basically means I might have an overactive gland which is taking too much calcium from my bones (the job of the parathyroid glands). If this is the case for me I might have an op to remove an overactive one and in theory the calcium should go back into my bones. Might be worth having your PTH levels tested. Are celiac or any other condition that might mean you're not absorbing vitamins?

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:12 PM

...with K2 in them. I also have a little raw milk in tea. I'm looking at K2 supplements over and above diet and the butter oil although apparently you don't need much but of course it all depends on how well you absorb it. I think it's more important in winter when egg yolks, butter etc have less of it because the cows are not on fresh pasture. I'm not sure about how much calcium is enough in fact I posted a question about what amounts you need to make sure calcium and magnesium are in balance but no replies yet. Chris Masterjohn's stuff is excellent, definitely read up!

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:08 PM

Hi Sarah-Mae, I take 600 or 800 mg of magnesium citrate, 4,000 IU of D3 and the fermented cod liver oil I take has D in it too, anywhere up to 19,50 IU but it is not exact nor is it all D3 apparently. I'm taking a lot of D as I had my levels tested and they were really low when my daughter was small and have taken a while to get back into the normal range. It is essential you get tested although if you run outside a lot you might be ok! The FCLO has A and some omega 3 but I'm keen to get most from my diet. I don't take calcium but am actually trying to eat cheese most days, especially those..

C0d63e15a4e21b29c49d0380d87894b3

(303)

on July 01, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Holy quick answers Karen :) I just picked up a few bottles of Yarrow's K2 (M7 variety) from iherb, I am rather excited to add it to my little vitamin arsenal. As far as why I have osteoperosis so young... not sure. It still hasn't been figured out. I have had amennohrea for years and years and years and the doctors never really looked too deeply into it (despite the fact that I KNEW something was wrong) until I fractured my femoral neck. The doctors think it was because I was training for marathon and not fueling my body properly (I was calorie counting at the time and was always ...

F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

(367)

on July 01, 2012
at 04:02 PM

I quite agree, it's frustrating, but I think all we can do is read up for ourselves, supplement, eat well and hope for the best! All I can say is having read about biophosphonate drugs, like Fosamax which my mum is on there is no way I am going on those! Dr Cate Shanahan's website (http://drcate.com/) has some good articles on bone-builders and I think osteoporosis too as well as children/childbirth/pregnancy etc. I also keep meaning to check out Ray Peat's stuff although he is controversial here, he has certainly written on osteoporosis. As you say *sigh*!

0
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on July 01, 2012
at 03:46 AM

Don't forget to take your magnesium, also.

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