The following drugs (called bisphosphonates) are all in the same chemical category and have similar effects on the bones in your body:

Fosamax                             alendronate
Didrone                               etidronate (not approved by FDA for osteoporosis)
Boniva                                 ibandronate
Actonel                                risedronate
Actonel with Calcium          risedronate with calcium carbonate
Reclast                                zoledronic acid

It's important to note the potential side effects of these drugs, which include…

•        pain or trouble with swallowing
•        chest pain
•        very bad heartburn or heartburn that does not get better
•        ulcers in your stomach or esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth and stomach)
•        diarrhea
•        pain in extremities (arms or legs)
•        dyspepsia (upset stomach)

In addition to these side effects, new research findings show that while these drugs can strengthen bone in the short-term, there appears to be little further improvement in bone building after three years of use...

After four to five years, they may actually cause weakening of bones--making you even more susceptible to fractures!

It takes 10 years to remove these drugs from your system after discontinuing their use.

Healthy perimenopasual women who merely have below average bone density may wish to consider natural means for building bone. With regard to nutritional supplementation, calcium can be helpful. Calcium in the form of “microcrystalline hydroxyapitate" is the only proven type of calcium supplement that can actually add to bones after age 35 -- and even after menopause!  There are several formulas containing this ingredient, but I usually reoommend "Bone Up" by Jarrow Formulas, which contains several potentiating vitamins and minerals which also build bone.  With regard to vitamin D, since your total ideal vitamin D intake should be about 5000 units per day, extra vitamin D3 supplementation is strongly advised. This is especially true for persons who do not receive adequate weekly exposure to sunlight.  Strontium Citrate is also a very good non-prescription supplement for building bone, and 700 mg/day is usually recommended.

For the treatment of osteoporosis, dietary changes should also be included, such as insuring the intake of adequate amounts of greens (high in magnesium and vitamin K), protein, as well as fruits and vegetables. Decreasing one’s sugar intake, minimizing caffeine to one serving a day at most, and decreasing ones intake of high sodium foods also helps preserve bone density. Weight bearing exercise, such as cardiovascular conditioning and light resistance exercise for the upper and lower body, stimulates bone growth naturally. These good health habits are far superior to insure proper bone re-mineralization, without all of the dangers and side effects of the commonly prescribed drugs available today.  If you do choose to take a natural approach to building your bones, be sure to schedule a bone density scan every few years to be certain your program is having the desired effect.  An average increase of 1% to 2% in bone mass is all to be expected per year, even with the best natural therapy approaches.

For persons at high risk for bone fractures, parathyroid hormone therapy may be a better option than most other drugs, yet more research needs to be done on the long-term side effects of this treatment.

** Never discontinue prescribed drug therapy without consulting your medical doctor for more information! **


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