Q. I am 17 years old and was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis due to anorexia. I am hesitant to start taking a drug for osteoporosis because it seems that it can have bad side effects.
Have you heard about any natural remedies? I have seen a few studies online citing that ground eggshells can help replenish calcium and reverse osteoporosis, but I wondered if you had seen any information about eggshells or other at-home treatments. Thank you!
A. Osteoporosis can be a complication of anorexia. Because you are still young you may be able to build bone back.
The first step is to provide your brittle bones with the nutrients they need, and eggshells may play a role here. You also need to offer them a bit of a challenge in the form of normal body weight and weight-bearing exercise (walking, running, dancing, tennis or something else you enjoy besides swimming).
Although bisphosphonate drugs (Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax) can be helpful for older women with osteoporosis, it’s not clear that they are effective or safe for adolescents (Current Opinions in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, Dec. 2011).
Powdered eggshell can be used as a calcium supplement (British Journal of Nutrition, March, 2002). Be sure to choose eggs from organically raised chickens and wash them well in boiling water before letting them dry. After a few days, break them into small pieces with your fingers and grind them into a powder in a coffee or spice grinder.
One eggshell provides roughly 800 mg of calcium, approximately a day’s worth. Taken together with magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K, that should provide your bones with the building blocks they need to grow stronger. You can get magnesium and vitamin K from green leafy vegetables, which also provide plant sources of calcium.
Good luck to you! Overcoming anorexia is a challenge, but with motivation and assistance you can do it and help your body heal itself.
Older women concerned about osteoporosis and brittle bones will likely benefit more from the medications used to treat this condition. They do have side effects, however, and it is well to be aware of them before starting on the drug. We offer information about the pros and cons of a range of therapies for weakened bones in our Guide to Osteoporosis.