Answers to questions you have asked:

1. How much Vitamin A is too much? What of beta-carotene?

2. What can we do when we reach the limits of weights that are safe for us to lift since BONES RESPOND TO NEW WEIGHT/STRESS?

1. Last issue reported studies that too much Vitamin A increased bone loss. Some of you asked “how much Vitamin A is too much?”

Answer: The studies I read all conclude that they are not sure yet but that even twice the RDA is associated with hip fractures. Some studies recommend not exceeding the RDA. (Some multi viatmins have twice the adult RDA of Vitamin A) I suggest asking your health care provider for guidance.

One person commented that the problem with Vitamin A does not apply to beta-carotene. I asked for a reference but have not received one so I did some research on the topic.

Vitamin A comes in two forms. Most studies about bone density do not study these two forms separately. I found 2 studies that did separate the forms of Vitamin A . The first of these concluded that there was the same problem of bone loss no matter which form of Vitamin A was taken. The second concluded that the problem of bone loss did not seem to appear in those using beta carotene form of Vitamin A.

If any of you can send me additional studies on the topic, I would be glad to read them and report to the list.

2. Over the last few years some readers have asked what to do when they reach their maximum weight load for lifting weights. We are not ‘power lifters’ and too much weight is not good. But we know that our bone building cells only respond to New Stress Keeping with the same weights would not be adding NEW stress to the bones.

I, too, have wondered about this and decided to write to one of the main researchers about this problem. Meantime I can tell you what I have done and why.

I think this problem is not addressed in most of the research because of the cost of studies. Studies are expensive; most end after 1 or 2 years. But for those of us trying to bring out bones back to normal density, 1 or 2 years is not enough time..

My own solution to the problem focuses on the words “new stress”. When I reached my maximum weights on the hip abductor/abductor machine and the leg press, I stopped using the weight machines for 6-8 months AND changed tactics to create a new type of bone stress.

There are studies on the efficacy of ‘jumping jacks’ for building bone. This is ‘impact stress’ - a different kind of stress from the even pressure of a gym machine. BUT I was afraid to do jumping jacks with Osteopenia, lest I break a bone when landing. Instead I used the impact idea and did marching - raising my knees as I walked. Over the weeks I increased the force of my march so I was stomping.

I also danced. Over the months I increased the level of impact – from waltzes, to the ‘lindy’, to stomping and I am now attempting a bit of polka – not full force but you get the idea. Since I dance by myself in the house, I am able to control the degree of impact..

Now , after almost 7 months, I have stopped the impact work and returning to the weight machines.

Of course, after all this time, I need to start at a much lower weight than I used ped last summer. I will work back up to maximum weight and I expect that my bones will respond positively to the work since this is now a NEW type of stress.

I have NO SCIENTIFIC study showing that this sort of switch works. I do know the improved results of my last dexa scan.

If and when I receive a response to my query from the Osteoporosis research center, I will let you know. Meantime I will keep switching types of exercises every 7 – 9 months.

Be well, A special note to our many Canadian readers – do be sure to get your Vitamin D since the winter sun is so weak up your way.