How did my daughter, a brain cancer survivor with limited mobility, maintain healthy bones?

Collagen is the buzz word among health and beauty experts these days. It's found in facial creams and cosmetics, supplement powder and pills, protein drinks, smoothie and bone broth. So, I started researching Collagen for my daughter, Sandra who is recovering from brain cancer and brain stem stroke. She is 20 years old and currently in a wheelchair with little mobility and has developed osteoporosis in her legs based on a bone density test.

Just a little background, Sandra's diet is simple - 80% raw cruciferous and dark green leafy vegetables, apples, blueberries, kiwi, seeds and nuts, healthy fats, fiber, and no added sugar. Protein includes chicken and fish. We believe that Sandra's diet and customized supplement intake has kept the cancer from coming back almost 5 years now.

5 ways to prevent bone density loss

  1. Eat a Healthy diet
  2. Take vitamins and minerals for bone health
  3. Perform bone density exercises
  4. Get some exposure to sun
  5. Ingest collagen peptides

#1   Healthy diet

Sandra's diet is simple - 100% organic, 80% raw food, high in healthy fats and fiber, no processed food, gluten, dairy, sugar or any foods that can cause inflammation.

For bone health, I ensure she gets adequate calcium, zinc, silica, manganese, boron, vitamin A, C, D, K, B6 from her diet. Her diet consists of cruciferous and dark green leafy vegetables, apples, blueberries, kiwi, seeds, nuts, quinoa, chickpeas, onions, garlic, ginger, chicken and fish, mostly sardines. No processed food, no packaged blended or baby food for tube feeding. Everything is organic and blended fresh daily.

#2   Bone health supplements

Sandra gets adequate calcium, magnesium, silica, zinc, D3, K2 vitamins and Omega Oils to maintain healthy bones.

#3   Bone density exercises

To prevent bone loss, the physical therapist stressed the importance of weight bearing exercises. Since Sandra has limited mobility, Sandra gets on a stander about 30 to 60 minutes daily at home. When she is able to get to physical therapy, she walks assisted on the treadmill at 2 miles per hour for 20 minutes or more.

Muscle strengthening exercises such as weight lifting, exercise bands and calisthenic exercises are also important for bone health. With assistance, Sandra works the exercise bands 3 times a week.

#4   Exposure to sun

Sandra gets a daily 20 minutes to exposure to sun and fresh air whenever possible at the park and walking trails. Sunlight will make Vitamin D in your body and also prevents bone from thinning.

#5   Collagen peptides

With all the necessary actions taken to prevent bone loss, what else is missing?

After researching, I discovered that I have left out collagen as a source for bone health. I started slow cooking bovine (cattle) bones and blending the bone broth with her meals as she is tube fed. Cooking bone broth is time consuming and washing the greasy slow cooker gets old after a while. The bone broth gelatin is also a little difficult for her to digest.

So, I switched to pure bovine collagen peptides sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows from New Zealand. The collagen peptides per serving is higher than bone broth and easier to digest and absorbed. Since vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis, I usually add fresh squeeze lemon in her collagen drink. After 6 months, Sandra has increased overall bone mass in her body. By the 12th month, Sandra has gained 10% of her body weight, mostly from bone and some muscle growth.

My recommendation

Young and old with limited mobility or recovering from illness are prone to muscle and bone density loss. Stay active, get your body moving and get sunlight or vitamin D3 as much as you can. Supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen for muscle growth, bone and joint health is vitally important.

Learn more about nutrients that can boost your body's natural collagen production.