Thursday, February 4, 2010

Osteoporosis and Goat Milk


Michelle asked me, "Why do you think it is that you don't have osteoporosis?"

This statement has given me much thought even though my first Dexa scan was good and my second showed an increase to where I'm now in the 98%. With my history this shouldn't be the case. Osteoporosis is a major factor on both sides of my family and it has been a concern of mine for a long time. My mother and one sister have osteoporosis so badly that if they break a bone the doctors can not do a thing for them. There is not enough bone to attach a pin to or fix. I looked at my sister's ex-rays and saw more air space than bone -that's scary. My mom's mom had severe osteoporosis and had a big hump on her upper back and even my father's sister had a bad case of osteoporosis. My sister closest to me in age has osteopenia which is the beginning stages of osteoporosis. What is my chances of not getting osteoporosis with this kind of family history? Actually, I figure they are pretty good.

I know that doesn't make much sense but let me explain. I've been forewarned and forewarned means I can change the course of history. As I watched my oldest sister go to specialists spending lots of money and grow worse with each of their treatments, I began to study the situation myself to see what were the doctors missing. My sister was taking lots of calcium and drugs to block the natural course of where the bone breaks down and rebuild halting the breaking down stage. Why then were her bones growing weaker?

And why was I doing fine and my sister's not? As I studied how calcium journeys to and from the bones I found that calcium supplements alone weren't enough. Obviously, or my sister would be doing better. I found out that the type of calcium is important for absorbability and it must be combined with other nutrients in order to be in a form that the body could use. One major ingredient is magnesium which we in our family have to watch that we get enough of for we tend to have low levels. The other major one is Vitamin D, particularly D-3.

Most people in North America are lacking in Vitamin D. When our skin is exposed to the sun, we absorb this vitamin and few people these days spend much time in the sun. Those that do cover up and wear sunscreen that blocks the absorption of this key vitamin. Though we found when my oldest sister, mother, and I were tested that we all had low Vitamin D levels, my levels were higher than theirs. I would say this was due to my lifestyle gardening and caring for livestock that naturally puts me out in the sun far more. Yet, even if I was a farmer or rancher I'm not likely to get enough vitamin D because the angle of the sun which deprives us of much of this vitamin.

Most of you know that the type of calcium is critical to absorption. Goat's milk happens to be loaded with calcium 326 mg in raw goat's milk compared to 290 mg in raw cow's milk. And goat milk fat globules, form of protein etc. is much easier to digest than cow's milk. This ability to digest easier means more absorption. I haven't found out how much magnesium is in goat milk but I did find out that bones are very high in phosphorus and goat's milk has 270 mg in comparison to 227 mg in cow's milk.

Another big factor in building strong bones is engaging in weight bearing exercise, which is a part of owning goats. My one sister with osteopenia works out regularly at a gym which I think has had a great deal to do with her staving off osteoporosis all these years. I don't know how much of her excersice is of the weight bearing type but my workout for the last couple days consisted of absorbing vitamin D while for an hour and a half I shoveled manure into a wheelbarrow and dumped it onto the garden. The day before, I unloaded and mixed 22 - 50 pound bags of livestock feed. This is not including the 12 - 14 four gallon buckets of water I haul to the stock each day and the hay I pitch and ... Not to mention the wood and coal my husband and I haul in to feed the hungry stove that heats our home.

There is one more factor I wish to discuss though it has nothing to do with goats or goat's milk. The parathyroids pull calcium out if the body does not have enough for its needs. My oldest sister had her parathyroids tested when she had thyroid surgery so I knew it wasn't a factor. Then when I formed two breast tumors in 1 year the size it typically takes 7 - 10 years to develop, I asked for some hormone tests. My progesterone levels were low which made my estrogen levels high and this caused the tumors. This led to my studying progesterone and its role in transporting calcium into the bones. A Harvard researcher found out that supplementing natural progesterone increased bone density in menopausal women 3-5% a year. My doctor prescribed natural progesterone and because my body is ever changing it doesn't produce enough of progesterone, two of the three main types of estrogen, or testosterone either along with some others that aren't applicable to this blog.

Pondering all this led me to wonder why since I had low Vitamin D and low progesterone levels did I not develop osteoporosis like the females in my family? I can't prove it but I'd have to say goat milk. I now believe the nutrient levels and absorption properties kept osteoporosis from developing. Would it have kept the dreaded disease at bay forever when my progesterone, and Vitamin D levels were low? Probably not, but I believe goat's milk gave me the time to find the answers before I succumbed to the disease. Hence, I believe that I will avoid osteoporosis and the next generation can build upon the knowlede I've gained about our families weaknesses and what we can do about them.

So yes, Michelle, after giving it quite a bit of thought, I do believe goat's milk helped me to avoid osteoporosis.

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