Posts Tagged ‘bmd tests’

Osteoporosis Beyond Bone Mineral Density

An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and every year 2 million people with osteoporosis have a so-called “osteoporotic fracture,” usually of the hip, spine, or wrist. Another 34 million (80% of them women) have osteopenia, which means their bones are thinner than normal but not thin enough to be labeled osteoporosis.

I recently wrote an article that appeared in the March 2011 issue of American Legion magazine in which I interviewed Steve Pieczenik, MD, PhD of NBI Pharmaceuticals in Bozeman, MT. He told me that doctors primarily rely on bone mineral density (BMD) tests in conjunction with age, fracture history, and family history to determine fracture risk. But BMD does not accurately reflect fracture risk, he says.

The BMD test indicates the hardness of bone, imparted by the minerals calcium and magnesium. “Flexibility is what helps bones resist fracture – the bone’s ability to bend and not break,” Dr. Pieczenik says.

In today’s New York Times “Personal Health” column, Jane Brody notes that bisphosphonates, the most commonly prescribed osteoporosis drugs, can reduce the “toughness” of bones, according to a report from a 27-member task force of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research published online last September.

The task force was looking into reports of unusual, hard-to-diagnose and hard-to-heal fractures of the femur, the long bone of the thigh, among women who have taken bisphosphonates — which can slow bone loss and increase bone density — for many years.

It’s bone collage that helps create flexibility, and to build bone collagen, you need vitamin K, says Dr. Pieczenik. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient (like vitamins A and D) found abundantly in leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens, as well as lettuce, cabbage, and asparagus.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School analyzed 10 years of health data on vitamin K intake and bone health in more than 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study. Those with the highest intake of vitamin K had a 30% lower risk for hip fracture, compared with women who had the lowest intake.

Doctors from England analyzed data from 13 studies on osteoporosis and found that a specific form of vitamin K called MK4 in the amount of 45 mg per day decreased hip fractures by 73%, spinal fractures by 60%, and non-spinal fractures by 81%. This is significantly better than spinal fracture reductions with the bisphosphonates Fosamax (47%) and Boniva (52%) and another common osteoporosis drug Evista (30%), says Dr. Pieczenik.

If you are at risk for or have osteoporosis, he suggests you start eating more green, leafy vegetables and consider taking dietary supplements containing calcium, vitamin D, and 45 mg of MK4.