Improve Bone Density
By Mark Stengler, ND
Try natural supplements and strategies to build and preserve bone and prevent bone loss.

Several years ago, media headlines grabbed the attention of millions of women and men with osteoporosis who were taking the popular drug Fosamax. Physicians at the Weill Cornell Medical College at Cornell University found that Fosamax may increase the risk of thigh-bone fractures for those who have been taking the drug for more than four years and have suffered minimal or no trauma. And the FDA reported earlier that Fosamax (and similar osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates) can cause incapacitating pain in bones, joints, and/or muscles, for reasons unknown. Worse still, it was found that Fosamax can cause destruction of the jawbone. The truth is that all osteoporosis drugs carry serious health risks. Fortunately, there are many natural approaches to improve bone density.

Alkalinize your system
When the body’s fluids become too acidic, minerals are pulled out of bones and tissues to reduce blood and tissue acidity. Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and especially potassium or bicarbonate are alkaline-forming, meaning that they shift the body toward a neutral or alkaline pH. This pH enables bones to hold on to calcium, which helps keep them strong. Fresh fruits and vegetables are major dietary sources of alkaline-containing minerals, especially potassium. Foods very high in potassium include coconut water, dates, raisins, and spinach. (Note: persons with kidney disease should not take supplemental potassium. Potassium is best in food form such as melons, bananas, potatoes, whole grains, and legumes.)

Alternatively, foods rich in chloride, phosphate, and sulfate are acid-forming, meaning that they increase acidity in the blood and tissues. Foods high in salt (as you commonly find in packaged and fast foods), beef, white breads and rice, milk, and other simple sugars are highly acidic. One simple way to maintain a pH-balanced diet is to fill half of your plate with vegetables, one-quarter with fish or other lean protein, and the remaining one-quarter with a small amount of starch (such as a sweet potato or brown rice). The following are several supplements available at health food stores that are critical to good bone metabolism.

Calcium Calcium has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis, and most studies show that, by itself, it slows bone loss. Calcium is most effective when combined with other nutrients that work synergistically to build bone.
Dosage: Take 250 to 300 mg of highly absorbable calcium complexes such as citrate, citrate malate, chelate, lactate, or hydroxyapatite.

Magnesium This mineral is thought to be just as important as calcium for bone density. It is involved in parathyroid hormone production and the activation of vitamin D, both of which influence calcium metabolism and absorption. Dosage: Take 250 to 350 mg twice daily of magnesium taurate or glycinate in divided doses. Reduce the dosage if you get a loose stool.

Vitamin D Recent research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is common, particularly in seniors. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D3 taken along with calcium decreases postmenopausal bone loss, helps prevent osteoporosis, and decreases the risk of fractures.
Dosage: Take 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily with meals. Those with osteoporosis should take 5,000 IU or higher daily as directed by a doctor.

Vitamin K Vitamin K is a key player in bone calcification. Vitamin K is required for the bone-forming protein osteocalcin to function properly. Studies have shown that vitamin K reduces bone loss as well as fracture rates.

Dosage: Studies have used up to 45 mg daily of vitamin K2. A typical dosage is 500 to 2,000 mcg for those with osteoporosis. Safety: Those on blood-thinning medications should not take supplemental vitamin K without strict supervision from their doctor.

 




Product Example (left to right)

Jarrow Formulas Bone-Up combines MCHA with vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 to support the deposition of calcium into the bones.

Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality Osteocalm provides a premium balanced formula of calcium, Natural Calm magnesium, vitamins, and ionic minerals.

Lane Labs AdvaCAL Ultra includes magnesium, vitamin D and six other essential bone nutrients for a complete bone health formula.

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