Sunday, August 20, 2006

More on Bone Health

The current Reader's Digest has an article on vitamin D. There's no doubt our diet, indoor lifestyle and fear of skin cancer (vigorous use of sun screen) have led to vitamin D deficiency in this country and others (even Australia and New Zealand). As per our reductionistic scientific and popular culture, the desire is to look to vitamin D supplementation as the latest answer to osteoporosis, cancer, you-name-it. I'm not an RD or a nutrition expert, so I don't know the answer.

But I do know this. Another significant contributor to the problem is a lack of structured resistance training for the average young person and adult--in lieu of the manual labor we used to have to do to survive and have decent bone health. The Reader's Digest article describes the story of a 14 y.o. young man from Massachusetts (lower levels of sunlight, especially in winter) who suffered a vertebral fracture from wearing his school backpack. Tests ruled out bone-density diseases, but did show the young guy had significant Vit D deficiency, along with bone density that was half of what it should've been for his age. The kid was active, playing soccer, volleyball and skiing, along with his three brothers. But others in his family also had Vit D deficiency.

Now at 20, his bone density is now reported to be 80% of what it should be. The Rx: daily supplementation of 2000 IU Vit D (10 times the RDA for everyone 50 and under) along with lots of milk and cheese for calcium. Here's the kicker:

"His scary brush with vitamin D deficiency has forced him to make some changes: no more skiing, soccer and volleyball. Now 20 and a college senior, XXXX plays golf and tennis instead."

The article does not mention ANY form of resistance or weight training. Now I suppose that doesn't mean there isn't any, but there is no mention of this ESSENTIAL activity to promote bone health in this kid's life, along with diet changes. He's now playing GOLF! Once again, good old American medicine and the press promote LESS VIGOROUS physical activity (FEAR of vigorous activity), in conjunction with supplementation and what many now consider to be sub-optimal dietary choice for calcium. Give me 6 months with this kid and we'll have his bone density at normal (or better) levels AND get him back on the slopes with his friends.

A few squats and presses a day keep the bone density docs away! You MUST stress the body for it to grow, remodel and respond. Resistance training must be a lifetime activity if we are to maintain our physical health in this day and age of luxury, comfort and physical sloth. If we don't, we will continue on our path of dismal bone health--and no amount of pharmacology or supplementation will fix it.

No comments: