The 3 Biggest Myths About Osteoporosis

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD
December 3, 2018


I see them in my office all the time: women with bones so brittle they could snap. Yet the astonishing thing is that these women have not neglected their bones. On the contrary, they’re doing everything they’re “supposed” to do to strengthen their bones. They’re taking fistfuls of calcium and other supplements. They’re eating dairy and soy. They’re doing weight-bearing exercise. They’re putting wild yam cream on their thighs.

Yet despite taking supplements, despite exercising, and sometimes despite trying drugs, they’re finding very little improvement in their bones. Why?

I’ve told you about the problems with calcium supplements in past issues. Next to calcium, women are now falling for what I call the 3 Biggest Myths About Osteoporosis.

Today, I’m going to expose those myths. But more importantly, I’m going to tell you how to reverse osteoporosis.

And I do mean reverse. You can literally regain the bone mass you had 10 or 20 years ago. You can do the things you enjoy without fear of a slip or fall that could land you in a hospital or nursing home.

So let’s get started …

Myth # 1: Bone Density Tests Predict Your Chances of Developing Osteoporosis

The truth: Only to a point. You see, bone density is a “statistical test.” The test looks at the density of your bones, and then compares that number to the statistics for someone your age and sex. The problem is that each person is different. What’s “strong” bone for one person isn’t necessarily the same for another.

Another weakness of this method is that it’s difficult to compare two bone density tests. The technician must aim the X-ray at the exact same spot on the same bone. If you’re just one-sixteenth of an inch off, you can get different results even if your overall bone health hasn’t changed.

I see this all the time when I look at prior bone density tests of my new patients. The tests show that the density went up in four different places — but also went down in four different places.

The bottom line is that you should take your bone density measurements with a grain of salt. The test can’t tell you how strong your bones are, and the results may not be all that accurate.

Yet most doctors use only bone density tests to diagnose osteoporosis or osteopenia. And that’s a shame. There are newer, better ways to truly check the density and the strength of your bones. The problem is, many doctors haven’t even heard of these tests.

The solution: Ask your doctor to run an N-telopeptide test. It’s a urine test that measures how much bone you’re losing. If N-telopeptide is too high in the urine, it means your rate of bone loss is too high. And one good thing about this test is that you can do it every few weeks if you want.

Another good thing about this test is that if you begin therapy right away, you’ll see an improvement in four to six weeks. With bone density tests, it takes a year or more to see a difference.

The N-telopeptide test is relatively inexpensive, and almost all labs can run it. However, a lot of doctors still don’t know about it. And because of that, many doctors prescribe osteoporosis drugs that their patients may not need.

Which brings us to…

Myth #2: You Should Never Use Prescription Drugs

The Truth: Long-term use of prescription drugs is dangerous. But over the short-term, they can be a quick way to build bone tissue.

You’ve probably heard about the dangers of bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax, Zometa, and Actonel. The most serious danger is that these drugs have been linked to a bone disease called osteonecrosis of the jaw. In this condition, the gums and jawbone stop generating new tissue. The jawbone “dies.” The teeth fall out. Sometimes the dead or decayed portions of the jawbone have to be removed by a surgeon.

So why am I saying that these drugs are OK to take over the short-term? Because every single case of necrosis of the jaw occurred when the person was either taking the drugs for many years, or was taking the more potent versions of the drugs (which are usually used in chemotherapy).

The solution: If you have severe osteoporosis, bisphosphonate drugs may be a good stopgap measure to increase your bone mass quickly. Studies show that over the short-term, these drugs do, in fact, result in stronger bone.

If you do use these drugs, you should use them for only a year. That’s long enough to get the benefits, but not long enough to suffer the serious side effects.

Myth #3 Hormone Therapy Is Dangerous

The (Surprising) Truth: You’ve seen all the news stories about how hormone replacement therapy can increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. But here’s what those stories fail to mention: All these dangers come from synthetic hormones, not natural ones.

You probably know that Premarin, the most commonly prescribed estrogen, comes from horses. (The name “Premarin” actually stands for “Pregnant Mare Urine.”) Indeed, Premarin contains over 49 different horse estrogens, not one of which is naturally found in humans. Of course it’s going to cause problems when humans take it!

And as bad as Premarin is, it’s not nearly as bad as Provera, the synthetic progesterone (progestin) doctors prescribed for years. In fact, the oft-quoted HRT studies show that women who took Premarin alone didn’t fare that badly. It’s when they added Provera that their rates of cancer and heart disease increased!

Yes, Provera is dangerous. I never prescribe it for my patients. But natural hormones are different. There’s never been a study to show any kind of danger from them. In fact, the opposite is true. Studies show that they actually help prevent breast cancer.

The Truth About Natural Hormones

Unlike synthetic hormones, natural hormones are structurally identical to the hormones that we produce in our own bodies. That’s why we refer to them as “bio-identical” hormones. These hormones exactly mimic what your body produces on its own (or used to produce on its own). The chemical reactions are the same.

I’ve seen them work miracles on my patients. My colleagues have seen the same thing. And studies prove our experience. In fact, clinical studies have shown that supplemental natural progesterone increases bone density by 7% in the first year, by 12% after two years, and by 15% after three years!

Yes, that’s new bone! Natural progesterone can help you rebuild the bone you’ve already lost. And natural estrogen is just as important.

You see, progesterone stimulates cells called osteoblasts. These cells build bone. Estrogen, on the other hand, slows the activity of cells called osteoclasts. These cells break down bone. Osteoblasts and osteoclasts work together to keep your bones healthy.

When you don’t have these hormones, this process of renewing and rebuilding doesn’t happen. With nothing to slow them down, the osteoclasts break down old bone tissue quickly. And the osteoblasts don’t produce new bone tissue. The inevitable result is osteoporosis.

What to Do if Your Hormone Levels Are Low

To find out your estrogen and progesterone levels, find a doctor who uses bio-identical hormones. You can find one at, or just Google “bio-identical hormone doctor” for your area.

When you visit the doctor, he’ll give you a hormone test to determine your hormone levels. This test will tell you if you’re deficient in estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone. (Yes, women’s bodies produce testosterone, too.)

If the test determines that any of your hormones are deficient, your doctor can set up an individualized hormone replacement plan for you. I do this for my patients, and it works far better than a one-size-fits-all plan.

How to Reverse Osteoporosis Even Faster

I hope that you’re now convinced that higher levels of hormones are the only way to reverse osteoporosis. But now let me show you my secrets for supercharging your osteoporosis regimen.

First, take a look at your diet. I know that’s not sexy. But it’s vital to good health.

Here are a few things to focus on:

    • Make sure you don’t drink a lot of soft drinks or coffee. These will leach calcium from your bones.

    • You also need to make sure you’re eating a lot of protein and vegetables. This way you’re sure to eat plenty of the trace minerals that are so important to bone health. These include zinc, boron, calcium, magnesium, etc. Notice I list calcium here. While you don’t need as much of it as most doctors say you do, you still need a little. And you’ll get plenty from a diet rich in protein and vegetables.

Next, Add the Right Supplements

Some patients are particularly low in zinc and need to take an extra supplement. I recommend 15 mg of zinc picolinate daily.

In fact, the only supplements young people (premenopausal) need to take are zinc, vitamin C (500 mg daily), and vitamin D.

Vitamin D is critical. I’ve already showed you why. But there’s more. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, so you can see why it’s so important for your bones. It’s so important that a deficiency makes you more likely to suffer stress or hip fractures, or other crippling bone injuries. Without enough vitamin D, once-healthy bones become thin and brittle. Worse, even thick bones can become so soft, they bend and break as easily as thinner bones!

Vitamin D is stimulated by sunlight, so people in Northern climates usually don’t get enough. In fact, several studies out of England show very clearly that during the winter, serum vitamin D levels are one-fifth what they are in the summer. And fair-skinned, thin, blue-eyed Scandinavian types statistically get more osteoporosis than dark-skinned types.

I used to think that people living in sunny climates didn’t have to worry about their vitamin D levels. But every patient that I test for vitamin D, regardless of where they live, is deficient. So I tell all of my patients to start with 5,000 IU of D3 per day during the winter. Start taking it around Thanksgiving and go until tax day (April 15).

Make sure you’re taking vitamin D3, not the inferior vitamin D2, which is found in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Vitamin D2 is a synthetic vitamin — and synthetics aren’t effective.

If you’re going through menopause or if you’ve already gone through it, you also need to take vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 reduces the rate of calcium loss from the bones by activating the hormone calcitonin. Calcitonin de-activates osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. Even small amounts of vitamin K1 can make an enormous difference. For example, just 1 mg of vitamin K1 per day reduces the loss of bone calcium by 35-50%. Larger doses have an even greater effect.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble molecule. So if you’re on a low-fat diet, you may not be getting enough. Additionally, vitamin K is most commonly found in green vegetables, and most people don’t include enough green vegetables in their diets.

Finally, make sure the bones that break most often — the hips and back — are strong. The best way to do this is with a gentle program of a weight-bearing exercise. It doesn’t have to be much. Women who exercise by walking fast for only one hour, three times per week can increase their spinal bone density by 4.4% per year.

Even 30 minutes of walking three times a week will yield results. I recommend walking outside in the sunlight to stimulate the production of vitamin D. However, on a day when that’s not possible, walking on a treadmill, in the mall, or even on a small exercise trampoline will be just as effective.

The trampoline is a good piece of indoor exercise equipment for osteoporosis. When you land on it, it gives your bones a slight compression, which is a good form of stress that builds your bones. After you go down on the trampoline, it shoots you up, giving you a second compression. You get more bang for your buck if you’re running in place on the trampoline instead of running in place on the floor.

You can also use something called the Power Plate. NASA uses the Power Plate for astronauts in space travel to keep their bones in shape. There is a lot of data on it showing that it really works. You can read about it on my website.

That’s the basic plan for keeping your bones in great shape. If your hormone levels are high, this plan will help keep them high as you go through menopause. If your hormone levels are low, you can add these to your natural hormone-replacement regimen and it will supercharge the hormones to work even faster.

Get Started NOW!

As you can see, you can reverse osteoporosis. I’ve seen excellent results using this protocol in every woman (and man) I’ve treated. It doesn’t matter if they’ve had breast cancer or not. In fact, all of my patients who follow this plan completely reverse their bone loss. They even build healthy new bone tissue. And they increase the strength of their bones.

Best of all — with every year, their bones get better and stronger. After years of struggling with weak, brittle bones they now have stronger, healthier bones than they did 20 years ago! So get started now! Make an appointment with a doctor who uses bio-identical hormones. And begin to enjoy strong bones that will stay strong for the rest of your life!

One final note: Natural hormones and exercise will reverse osteoporosis in just about every case. But if you have osteoporosis and don’t want to take natural hormones, you can still follow the other recommendations in this report and see improvement. However, you’ll have to work a lot harder. You’ll have to exercise more, clean up your diet completely, and make sure you’re vigilant about taking all the supplements I’ve mentioned. I can’t guarantee this will reverse osteoporosis. But it will likely stop its progression or at least slow it down.


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