In this video, Sumit Mehrotra from Wellkasa, talks to Donald I Abrams, MD, Integrative Oncologist, to learn about bone and joint health. See this short informative video to learn about the benefits and risks of supplements for bone and joint health as well as the impact of cancer on bone and joint health.
Bone and Joint Health Problems
As we age, our bones can get less mineralized and less strong than they used to be when we were younger. Osteopenia is the beginning of bone demineralization, and it progresses over time to osteoporosis, which puts people at risk for fracturing their bones easily. Joints may also deteriorate through the wear and tear of aging and can become painful. Arthralgia is joint pain, and arthritis is joint inflammation.
Symptoms of Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, and Arthritis
Osteopenia and osteoporosis don’t really have symptoms. Bone density scans are done to determine if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. For arthritis, pain, swelling, redness, heat, and tenderness are all evidence that is there is some inflammation in the joints.
Cancer and Bone and Joint Health
Estrogen and testosterone are hormones the body produces, and they help keep bones healthy. As people go through menopause or andropause, they produce less estrogen and testosterone, and their bones become less strong and mineralized. Cancer patients treated with hormonal manipulations are at greater risk for demineralization of bones. In addition, people with breast cancer taking aromatase inhibitors tend to get a lot of joint and muscle issues.
Supplements & Mind-body Therapies for Bone and Joint Health
Resistance exercise is important for bone health. Resistance exercise involves activities to increase strength and endurance (ex: lifting weights). It keeps muscles toned and bones mineralized. In addition, yoga is good for keeping joints flexible. It is recommended that those who are more at risk for joint problems do yoga exercises often.
Dairy is a major source of calcium, and calcium is essential for bone health. Dr. Abrams recommends to supplement if dairy isn’t included in the diet. However, too much calcium supplementation in men increases the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Thus, Dr. Abrams recommends 1000-1200 mg of calcium a day for post-menopausal women and 300-500 mg for men who still have a prostate. Additionally, calcium can constipate. Hence, calcium should be combined with magnesium as magnesium relives constipation. A 2:1 calcium to magnesium formula is best to use for bone health support. See this product at Wellkasa.
Vitamin D is important for bone health as it increases the absorption of calcium. Dr. Abrams says that people over the age of 50, overweight, and with more skin pigmentation are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. In addition, many cancer patients are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is best absorbed as a gel bead or liquid as it is fat soluble. Dr. Abrams says that vitamin D may need to be taken in conjunction with vitamin K2 to decrease the risk of calcification of arteries.
Acupuncture can be useful for easing the musculoskeletal symptoms and joint pains, particularly for women on aromatase inhibitors.
Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are anti-inflammatory and can help with joints. Omega 3’s may also have some anti-depressant activity as well.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, which is a food anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric needs to either be modified or taken with a black pepper component called piperine to be absorbed properly by the upper gastrointestinal tract foer systemic benefits. However, black pepper can increase absorption of everything else in the stomach at the same time. If you are taking prescription medications, then taking black pepper may cause overabsorption, which may be harmful.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is something that people with arthritis may consider trying. Dr. Abrams uses it personally to treat his small joint arthritis in his hands and feet. However, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may not be effective for people with large joint arthritis.
Risks of Bone and Joint Support Supplements
Many patients overdose on Vitamin D, which can cause high calcium levels and lead to many problems, includingNeuropsychiatric difficulties
In addition, Omega 3 supplementation with fish oil may put people at a greater risk of bleeding, especially if more than 4 grams is taken a day. Thus, Dr. Abrams does not recommend people take more 4 grams of omega 3 supplements or fish oil day. It is also a good idea to stop omega 3 supplements if surgery is planned.
See video below.