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-   -   Osteopenia/osteoporosis? (http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/general-health-medical-issues/796372-osteopenia-osteoporosis.html)

EmmaPeel 02-05-2013 02:10 PM

Dear Forumites,
I am new to low-carb but have already been delighted by the results--wow, the only diet ever that worked. Trouble is, at 54, menopausal, I also have systemic lupus, thyroid issues, and now---ta daa!---osteopenia, borderline osteoporosis, according to a dexa scan a week or so ago. Doc says "take calcium and vitamin D3, eat yogurt and milk 3x daily, do weight bearing exercise 3x a week."

But it's tricky: can't take calcium 5 hours near thyroid medicine, which I have to take am and pm. Don't want any dairy that has carbs--yogurt is out. Hate cheese. Some greens are goitrogens (bad for thyroid). Anyone have advice about what to eat, and when, in order to rebuild bone?


Leo41 02-05-2013 05:00 PM

I have the same problem! I'm hypothyroid (age 71) and have mild osteopenia. I take both Levoxyl (T4) and Cytomel (T3), and my T3 has to be split 3 times a day. It's 4 hours from all thyroid meds before you can take calcium, and I usually try to avoid all dairy.

I take a calcium supplement, but here's my problem. The body can absorb only 500 mg. of calcium at a time. I don't know how long it has to be before the next dose, but I take my final T3 at about 2 pm. Then I take 500 mg. of calcium at 6 pm. Then I try to take a second 500 mg at 8 pm. So I rarely get more than 1,000 mg. in supplements.

I've read that it's better to get the calcium from food rather than supplements, but I could not get enough calcium even if I ate dairy because of the thyroid issue.

Ironically, it's the hypothyroid that makes us susceptible to bone loss, but it's because of the thyroid meds that I don't get enough calcium.

My doctors have no solution and tell me to do the best I can and 'not worry.'

Ronnie51 02-11-2013 09:25 AM

Hi, I saw your posts and registered so I could respond. I'm post menopausal and on 50 mcg Synthroid once per day. My past Dexa scans showed that I have Osteopenia and it was getting worse. Two years ago my doctor suggested I take a supplement called Strontium, so I found a brand that I trusted and started taking two pills per day (680 mg). Like you, I had to space it out because you're not supposed to take it at the same time you take calcium because they compete for absorption. I also didn't want it to interfere with my Synthoid absorption. So, I found a schedule that worked for me, where I take my second calcium dose two hours before I take the Strontium. Well, after two years I just had another Dexa scan and it showed that my bone density INCREASED up to 7.5% in my spine. My hip bone density also increased but not as much as my spine. This stuff works and I highly recommend it. I've exercised and taken calcium and Vitamin D most of my adult life, but my bone density continued to decrease until I started taking the Strontium. So, if you can fit it into your schedule, I highly recommend it. I still have Osteopenia, but I'm optimistic that the Strontium may reverse it eventually. By the way, regarding calcium, I have risk factors for heart disease and I've read from competent sources (e.g., AARP) that too much calcium supplementation can raise your heart attack risk (only Calcium from supplements, not from food). According to one AARP article, post menopausal women should limit their intake to between 600 to 800 mg per day. So, now I take my daily over 50 multivitamin which has 500 mg, and I add one calcium citrate table with 315 mg. two hours later and that's it as far as calcium. I suggest that you talk to your doctor about Strontium...I'm proof that it does work.

Leo41 02-11-2013 11:26 AM

Thanks so much for your post1

I've heard about the Strontium--and I actually HAVE it, but I haven't been taking it because I learned that it competes with both my calcium AND my thyroid meds. I didn't bother because I didn't have any real evidence that the Strontium would help. But based on your experience, I need to take it!

Do you think that 2 hours from calcium would be enough? If so, I'd skip my second calcium and take the Strontium about 7 or 8 pm.

Ronnie51 02-12-2013 09:49 AM

Hi Leo, I wait 2 hours between my last calcium and when I take the Strontium and I do think that is enough. I'll tell you, when I received my Dexa results in the mail I was afraid to read it, and was thrilled to read the great results. At best, I was hoping that the decline in my bone density had stopped with the Strontium and never expected that it would have increased. I have read quite a few testimonials at websites selling supplements, and many have stated the same as I have, that their bone density actually increased from using Strontium. I can't state as to how long it takes for the density to start improving; with me, I retested two years later and the results were there. I'm assuming it's a slow process. Good luck to you!

Leo41 02-12-2013 12:01 PM

Hi Ronnie-

Thanks again for all your help! I just had a scan recently, and I was hoping that my exercise (strength training/resistance) would have helped, but there was slightly more decline than 2 years ago. I'm only barely in osteopenia, but I want to stop the loss now.

I really think the Strontium is the answer. I've heard what you report about the dangers of calcium supplements, so I'm not going to be concerned with taking just 500 mg a day. I've been supplementing with D3 for quite a while because that was low several years ago.

I can usually finish my thyroid meds by 2 pm, take the calcium about 6 pm, and the Strontium at 8 pm.

I won't be scheduled for another scan for 2 years, so that will tell whether this works as well for me as it has for you.

Again, thanks so much. This is the incentive I needed to take the Strontium.

Ronnie51 02-12-2013 04:46 PM

I'm so glad I was able to help you. Your schedule for taking the supplements sounds good. I'll only add that maybe you should discuss all this with your doctor; in my case, my doctor was the one who recommended the Strontium so I knew he already approved. I know that some doctors don't believe in supplements and I'm glad that my doctor does. I hope the Strontium works as well for you as it has for me, if not better. By the way, make sure you take enough per day. My doctor told me "around 700 mg"; the supplements I bought equaled 680 mg for two capsules, so I take two at one time once per day. I wish you good health!

Leo41 02-13-2013 02:32 AM

Thanks, Ronnie-

I have a great endo who monitors my thyroid--and prescribes the periodic bone scans. I plan to bring my Strontium to my next visit to show him. He's actually not concerned about the osteopenia because he says it's really 'slight,' but he's also very open to information, etc.

The strontium I have recommends two capsules daily, and they total 680mg, so I guess I'm OK with that.

EmmaPeel 02-15-2013 02:47 AM

thanks to both
Dear Leo and Ronnie,
Just getting back here after a eek away but wanted to thank you so much for this info! The timing looks very tricky, but how does this sound:
T4 & T3 at bedtime; then calcium 500 in the AM, with the D3 and magnesium and multivitamin; then strontium in early afternoon?

I read in the thyroid literature that the long time of digestion for thyroid meds taken at night may let them be absorbed better---? Then that means, Calcium and Strontium spaced during the day? Any reason not to go with this?

I am convinced to try strontium---called the docs ofc and the RN said "oh sure,any vitamins are fine" ...does not inspire confidence.
Anyway, thanks for this very helpful discussion.

Leo41 02-15-2013 04:09 AM

Hi Emma-

How much T3 do you take? I take 25 mcg (in 5mcg increments), and I have to space it out during the day, which is why I have a problem with the calcium and Strontium. If you can take your thyroid meds all at the same time, then your proposed schedule should work great.

I forgot to mention your comment about the green veg (goitrogens). That's only a problem when they're raw. If you cook them, there's no issue with the thyroid. Keep in mind that there's a lot of 'thyroid hysteria' online.

I've read about the Strontium in a couple of online medical sites, and no one seems to see any danger at all with the OTC. I don't expect to see my endo again until my regular check up in May, but when I do, I'll report here what he says about the Strontium.

Ronnie51 02-15-2013 01:05 PM

Hi Emma,
My schedule is less complicated as I only take one 50mcg Synthroid once per day; I can't remember if I read this in the handout from the pharmacy, but I did read that I should take the Synthroid first thing in the morning 1/2 hour before breakfast. So, I've always worked my other meds and supplements around that. The handout did say you need to wait 4 hours after taking synthroid before taking supplements (or vice versa), so for that reason, taking the Strontium at night works best for me. But your schedule looks fine, since you're taking the supplements at least 4 hours away from the thyroid meds. I would love to know if the Strontium works for you and Leo, but, of course, that takes time.

EmmaPeel 02-15-2013 05:10 PM

I was on 100mcg T4 (levothyroxine) and 20 mcg T3 (liiothyronine), but when I got back tot he US, this (dubious) doctor reduced the T3 to 10mcg! I was doing FINE , Ft3 and Ft4 levels were midrange---he did this because of a low TSH, despite me telling him I felt FINE. The UK doc said 20 would be right, and it was. Bah.
Indeed I do not feel as good now.

Anyway, I had been taking the thyroid meds all together, an hour before breakfast, and waiting waiting waiting (sometimes skipping breakfast to get to work; not good). So I think it will be easier to take thy-meds at night, calcium in am, strontium in pm. I'll try and see how this goes; let me know if you both have any advice on it.

Also, I am bewildered by the range of strontium citrate options! I did not know what to buy today. I seem to recall mention of several reliable brands here somewhere, was that you Leo? Can't find it now.

Hope you are both well and managing all these self-help measures fine!

EmmaPeel 02-15-2013 05:11 PM

PS at one point I was told (by the RN) to split up the thyroid meds for am and pm---that is why I was doing that; but when I asked her this time, she said it doesn't matter... hmm... do you both notice a difference?

Leo41 02-16-2013 04:29 AM

When my endo first increased my dose of T3 from 5 mcg to 10 mcg, he told me to take the second pill in the early afternoon. I've since read that it's fairly standard to space out the T3 during the day because 1) you don't want a big 'hit' of the hormone all at once--T3 is much more fast acting than the T4; 2) its effects 'wane,' and it helps keep you steady during the day if you've split your dosage.

My endo got 'scared' when it first looked at my TSH at my last check up--but then he remembered that I'm taking T3. He told me that all thyroid meds will suppress the TSH, but T3 suppresses it A LOT. Since I feel fine and have no 'hyper' symptoms, he knew my very low TSH isn't a problem. The doctor who lowered your dosage may not have remembered this.

You can take T3 any time (with or without food), but the T4 needs to be on an empty stomach and 30-60 min. before any food. Since I like to eat breakfast as soon as I wake up, I take my T4 in the middle of the night! I need to get up for the bathroom at least once during the night, and it's usually about 1-2 am. I keep water and my pills on my nightstand, and that's when I take my T4.

Ronnie51 02-16-2013 01:20 PM

I also have to get up in the middle of the night at least once...you're making good use of that time up, Leo :-). As far as a reliable brand of Strontium, I take Doctor's Best and that's what reversed my bone loss so I would recommend it. If you buy it from the Internet, shop around because some sites offer great prices with free shipping.

EmmaPeel 02-16-2013 07:38 PM

This is so helpful, both! Hmm, let me see if I get this ok---
---T4 in the middle of the night (I am up for the bathroom too!),
---T3, half of it, in the am (but not a problem if with food? even my one and only cup of coffee?)
---strontium at noon
---T3 (other half) in afternoon
---calcium at dinner (at least 5 hr away from strontium or T4)...

I like making use of the middle of the night trip when tummy is empty! Good idea.

And I like the reminder to this doc that of course T3 will lower TSH---let's hope he lets me raise the T3 again, i felt soooo much better on 20!

I found some exercises in a book t the used bookstore and am doing them for osteo---really simple, like wall push ups, body raises on a chair, leg raises, squats, floor swims, etc. What do you recommend for exercise?

Leo41 02-17-2013 06:14 AM

Emma- Your schedule of taking the meds sounds good.

I have severe osteoarthritis, and my knees are really bad (bone on bone) but my surgeon has advised me to delay replacement as long as possible (I'm 71) because I've done so well with eliminating pain (and I cope with my limitations). The exercise you're doing sounds good. What I've done (advice from doctors and physical therapists) is strengthen all my leg muscles with regular exercise. It's the muscles that have to do extra work when the joints are weak.

I began with physical therapy. You can ask any doctor to write you a prescription for strengthening legs. You only need a couple of visits to learn the exercises; they can all be done at home. They recommend just 2-3 times a week. I did that for several years. Eliminating grains and sugar from my diet really helped eliminate pain in my joints. I know that it's true because if I have sugar, I 'feel' it the next day.

Now I use the 'machines' at my health club (resistance/strength training) twice a week, and I have muscle definition for the first time in my life! And it's easier and easier to me to move comfortably.

Ronnie--Doctor's Best is the strontium that I have--and I'm glad that's the one that helped you! When I bought it (on the internet, but I don't remember where), the reviews were very good from users.

Ronnie51 02-17-2013 11:18 AM

Emma, You schedule sounds good but please just be sure to keep a 4 hour window between your supplements and your thyroid meds. As far as exercise, I've been an avid exerciser for the past 30 years, both cardio and resistance training. In the past few years I've reduced the total amount of weight that I lift to no more than 25 lbs., and I don't do high impact nearly as much as I used to, but I do keep it challenging. Your exercises sound great; if they get too easy you can always add a light weight in each hand to increase the resistance. What I found that really works well for me as it exercises my heart, leg and hip joints at the same time is using a step climber for 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes of upper body resistance training and ab work. I found a very reasonably priced climber/stepper at amazon and I alternate that with full body tapes that I've been using for many years. I used to exercise 5-6 days per week, but now I do 3-4 days and it seems to be keeping me fit. It always feels great mentally to know you're doing something good for yourself that doesn't involve taking more medicine...in fact it can keep the medicine away. Leo, I can relate to how great it feels to see definition in your muscles....my husband is always telling me to flex my biceps for people because they're always amazed. I have a twin sister (fraternal) who has coronary artery disease....she doesn't exercise and does not watch her diet. She and I are perfect examples at how living a healthier lifestyle makes a major difference in one's health as I have the same heart disease risk factors as she does, but no heart disease. So, I highly recommend the exercise.

ouizoid 02-17-2013 11:27 AM

just a pitch here for bone broth. I am also hypo and O.penia. I am now making and drinking bone broth daily as a food source for calcium and glucosamine. every little bit helps.

EmmaPeel 02-17-2013 01:03 PM

Hi all--this is so helpful, thank you!
PS--what is bone broth, and how do you make it?!

Ronnie51 02-17-2013 02:00 PM

Ditto Emma's question....I never heard of bone broth!?

Leo41 02-17-2013 03:20 PM

Bone broth is basically homemade broth from meat bones--any kind.

Since I'm very sensitive to food additives (like MSG) I long ago gave up on any commercial broth, but the 'latest' health news is that bones 'brewed' into broth contain all sorts of minerals that are good for us.

One key is to put some vinegar in the water when you boil the bones; it helps leach out all the nutrients.

Personally, I think it's healthy, but I doubt that it's the magic elixir according to the current hype. I make my own soup, and bone broth is always the basis.

ouizoid 02-17-2013 04:30 PM


I make it in my crockpot weekly and drink every day. I definitely feel better when I drink it.

Ronnie51 02-17-2013 05:45 PM

Thank you, Ouizoid!

haferchamp 03-04-2013 08:04 AM

I was taking a strontium tablet a while back made by "ortho molecular products", which can be found on line. For some reason I didn't stay with it so can't say whether it worked for me or not.

My last visit with Dr in regards to my bone density scan showed osteopenia and she started me on a product called "ostera" by Metagenics (also on line) which she carries. It's supposed to promote healthy bone remodeling in post menopausal women. It's high in vit. K, vit. D, and berberine HCI.

Newest findings are that vit. K is a big key in bone health along with of course vit. D and calcium.

Metagenics also carries a calcium tablet I take in conjuntion with the Osteria which is called Cal Apatite.

Of course i've only been taking these for a couple of months so time will tell if they do any good.

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