Monday, March 14, 2011

Bone Mineral Density (BMD): Not the "Gold Standard" for Predicting Fractures

Doctors use the term Bone Mineral Density (BMD) to describe bone health and use it as a benchmark to prescribe prescription medications such as Boniva and Fosamx—powerful drugs that claim to protect against osteoporosis by strengthening BMD.

But dense bones are not necessarily more fracture-proof than less dense bones. Think of a piece of chalk: it has very high calcium density, but that won’t prevent breakage when you drop it on the floor!

Several important studies show that BMD does not always predict who is at risk for fractures.

A 1996 study in the British Medical Journal found that BMD accounted for LESS THAN HALF of the risk factors for hip fractures. 

In a systematic review sponsored by the American College of Physicians in 2008, the authors estimated that lumbar and hip Bone Mineral Density only predict, at best, 44% of fractures in elderly women and 21% of fractures in men.

Writing in the Spring 2011 Issue of the Journal Holistic Primary Care, John Neustadt, ND, author of the best-selling book "A Revolution in Health through Nutritional Biochemistry" states:

While Bone Mineral Density is important, other factors such as how flexible bones are better predictors of bone health. Mineral density is  important only if the mineral content is well-supported by a strong, supple collagen matrix. The collagen in bone is what gives it the springiness to absorb shock and stress, and prevent fracture. Like Bone Mineral Density, collagen quality and quantity also decline with age. 
How can you ensure that bones stay flexible as well as strong?
Nutrients such as vitamin K improve bone flexibility (ask your health professional about dosing).

Foods rich is vitamin K include:
Green leafy vegetables, whole fat organic dairy products and whole grains.

Read more about vitamin K and bone health on Dr. Neustadt's homepage.

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