"Blacklisted" hormone can keep your bones as strong as bricks

You exercise. You pop those calcium tablets like they were candy. You even get regular bone scans.

And it's all because you know that just one bad fall or bone break can be all that stands between you and a nursing home or assisted living.

But if you want to keep rock-solid bones as you age -- and are looking to give osteoporosis a run for its money -- I have a simple solution that could keep you permanently fracture-free.

And it's all thanks to a hormone that may have the single worst reputation on the market.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, getting regular injections of growth hormone can literally cut your risk of an independence-stealing bone break in half.

For the study, women with osteoporosis between the ages of 50 and 70 were given daily shots of a growth hormone or a placebo for 18 months. They were then followed for 10 years.

The women who had the growth hormone had higher bone density, and half the fracture rate of the other women. The best news is that the protection stayed with the women for years after the study ended.

Now, I can't see you right now -- but I know the look you're giving me. It's the same look I get from lots of my patients when I talk about growth hormone.

This powerful hormone has gotten a terrible rap over the years, as it's been abused in massive quantities by athletes looking to get an edge.

But the fact is, growth hormone is absolutely essential to your body's ability to repair bone and other tissue. And your levels naturally decrease as you age, which can make an osteoporosis problem worse.

There's a good chance you haven't had your growth hormone levels tested -- or that they haven't been tested in a while. And if you're concerned about thinning bones, you should ask your doc to order up some lab work at your next appointment.

And if you're interested in starting a growth hormone regimen, insist on the same bioidentical hormones I use with my patients. These hormones more closely mimic what we make in our own bodies, which means they're safer, more effective and less likely to cause side effects.

And never forget that one of the easiest ways to protect your bones is absolutely free. Go for a 30-minute walk outside every day. The vitamin D you'll get from the sun and the exercise will both help thicken and strengthen your bones.