Osteoporosis literally means "porous bones". A lack of calcium is the major cause of osteoporosis; a silent disease in which bones lose some of their calcium and other minerals making them brittle and fragile. It does not give an advanced warning. Usually, the first sign is severe low back or hip pain, or a broken bone.

With aging, almost everyone experiences some loss of bone mass. However, it is more common among women than men because women have about 30% less bone mass to begin with. Also, estrogen appears to play an important part in female bone metabolism, which is why women lose bone mass at an accelerated rate during the first 5 to 10 years after menopause. Estrogen protects the skeletal system by promoting the deposit of calcium in bone.

You experience your peak bone mass around the age of 35. After the age of 35, the body creates less new bone and is less efficient in absorbing and storing dietary calcium. This results in the loss of bone mass of about 1% a year. Until you hit menopause, then you lose about 2 to 4% a year for about the next 10 years.

Once you stop producing bone mass your body still needs calcium for functions, so your body has to take the calcium from your bones leaving them brittle and fragile.

Other causes of osteoporosis are an inability to absorb enough calcium through the intestine, prolonged jaundice, a calcium-phosphorus imbalance, lactose intolerance, a gastrectomy and a lack of exercise.

Certain drugs; such as, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, thyroid medications and high doses of steroids can also be a factor in calcium loss.

Healthy bone metabolism requires a certain amount of stress on the bones. Therefore; regular exercise that gives weight-bearing bones a good workout is essential. Good bone building exercises include walking, jogging, bike riding, dancing, tennis or other activities that require moving about.

The best ways to prevent osteoporosis is to build strong bones early in life, especially under the age of 35 while still building bone mass. Then take steps to keep the bones healthy by eating more calcium rich foods or taking supplements.

A diet adequate in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C and vitamin D is the best prevention and treatment for osteoporosis. Additional minerals important to the health of your bones include boron, copper, manganese, silicon and zinc.

Calcium is the largest and most difficult molecule to utilize. It is most effective when taken in smaller doses throughout the day and at bedtime. When taken at night it will also promote a sound sleep.

Magnesium plays a role in the formation of bone metabolism. It assists in calcium uptake.

Phosphorus is needed for bone formation. A balance of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus should always be maintained.

Vitamin C is important for collagen and connective tissue.

Vitamin D is required for calcium and phosphorus absorption and utilization. It is especially important for normal growth and development of bones. The body manufactures vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight and is found in fortified milk and multivitamins.

Boron improves calcium absorption and is needed in trace amounts for healthy bones.

Copper aids in the formation of bone. It is essential for the formation of collagen, which makes up the connective tissue of the bone matrix. One of the early signs of copper deficiency is osteoporosis.

Manganese is vital in mineral metabolism. It is required for normal bone growth and reproduction. However, do not take calcium and manganese together - they will compete for absorption.

Silicon (silica) is necessary for calcium utilization and bone strength. Silica tablets contain high amounts of calcium in a form that is easily absorbed.

Zinc is important for calcium uptake and is important to the health of your bones. A deficiency impairs the body's ability to utilize proteins.

Excellent sources of easy to assimilate calcium are buckwheat, buttermilk, cheese, dandelion greens, flounder, kefir, kelp, molasses, nuts and seeds, oats, seaweed, tofu, most vegetables, wheat germ, whole wheat products and yogurt.

Herbals you might want to try if you have osteoporosis include feverfew, horsetail (silicon), oatstraw (a form of silica) and shavegrass.

If you are worried that you are at risk for osteoporosis, you may want to consult with your doctor to discuss an exercise and prevention plan.

Author's Bio: 

Edith Lingenfelter - creator, owner and webmaster of Age-old Herbs - is dedicated to heightening the awareness of the natural healing powers of "herbs" and "herbal nutrition supplements". It is her goal to provide enough interesting information to stimulate interest in learning how to use safe natural supplements and remedies for preventive health care. For more information visit age-oldherbs.com