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Hormones play big role

By Staff | May 15, 2009

Last week I started a discussion about the role of progesterone and bone building. Dr. John Lee is undisputedly the world’s foremost clinician on progesterone and hormone balancing. He spent considerable time investigating the wide-ranging effects of progesterone, including rebuilding bone.

Here are some snippets from his book and seminars:

A common medical treatment for osteoporosis is estrogen therapy, which may help to preserve bone throughout menopause and our senior years. Estrogen does not, however, rebuild bone. That is one of the roles of progesterone.

Women are seldom deficient in estrogen, even though we all go through menopause when hormone levels naturally decrease. One of the reasons we have enough estrogen is that many of us carry extra body fat, and body fat produces estrogen. An over-weight, post-menopausal woman produces more estrogen than a pre-menopausal thin woman, so estrogen adequacy is not the issue for most women. If a woman is still menstruating, she is producing enough estrogen to make that happen, so supplementing with more estrogen makes her estrogen-dominant. In other words, she has too much estrogen in relation to progesterone.

Estrogen dominance produces the myriad of symptoms associated with PMS. It also contributes to osteoporosis.

Bone maintenance is a dynamic process. We are constantly breaking down and building new bones. Bone loss may slow when women are on estrogen but estrogen does not rebuild bone. You need progesterone for that.

The normal physiological dose of progesterone (how much progesterone your body should make under normal conditions) is from 20 24 mg per day. Dr. Lee found that by supplementing progesterone (through the use of a cream, not oral dosing) at this level, his elderly patients started rebuilding bone. Women who had the most bone loss rebuilt the most bone on progesterone therapy. Many women gained up to 4 percent per year.

By the way, according to Dr. Lee, the mineral flouride toxic to bone; it builds denser bone but poor quality bone.

This hormone, as essential as it is, is not the only factor in maintaining healthy bones. Diet, adequate stomach (what is the effect of acid-inhibitors on bone density?), sleep quality, stress, and quality/quantity of exercise. Bone health is not a matter of age.

Testosterone will do same thing as progesterone.

Carol Simontacchi owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel.

She can be reached at 472-4499.