Here’s an interesting question – Why do men and women who routinely take calcium supplements to support good bone health still suffer from loss of bone mineral density? The obvious answer is that they do not take enough calcium to replace what they lose during normal aging. But there may be other reasons too. To fully understand this problem, it’s important to understand the physiology of good bone support.
Calcium is not the only answer for bone support
Most doctors overlook the fact that bone density loss is not just associated with calcium deficiency, but also with insufficient intake of a number of other nutrients. This includes vitamins D3, C, A and K2 and the minerals magnesium, zinc, manganese and boron. When I was in medical school, we asked our attending physician on rounds one day as to what calcium form is best to give our patients to possibly help with osteoporosis. He told us to give one of the over-the-counter antacids to chew. We now know that many forms of calcium, such as in antacids, are not well absorbed or if the right form of calcium is given, it should be done a couple of times a day since too much calcium at once is not well absorbed either.
So what do I need to take?
- Calcium – Calcium is one of the basic building blocks of strong bones. But not all calcium supplements are good or absorbed. Biologically-active calcium is most important because once it is absorbed, our bodies know what to do with it. I always tell my students to “never eat anything a plant hasn’t eaten first.” This guarantees that the nutrients we absorb are in the correct forms for all of our metabolic processes.
- Magnesium – Both men and women experience bone density loss as they age. They may also suffer from significant deficiencies of magnesium at the same time. Magnesium is critical for activating hundreds of enzymatic reactions that our bodies require to maintain optimal health. This includes maintaining strong bones. Magnesium is required to activate vitamin D3 for calcium absorption from our guts.
- Vitamin D3 – This vitamin is actually not a vitamin. The reason I say this is that we cannot make vitamins, but rely on consuming them from the nutrients we eat or absorbing them from the bacteria that make them in our guts. We actually make vitamin D3. It’s called the “sunshine” vitamin because we can make it by being exposed to the sun. Vitamin D3 is actually a pro-hormone or steroid that affects about 2300 of our 25,000 genes!
- Vitamin K2 – This “K” vitamin is not the one your doctor talks about when he is adjusting the dosage of your blood thinners as vitamin K1 is necessary for our livers to make the clotting factors that allow our blood to clot. Vitamin K2, however, is necessary to move the calcium that we absorb to move into our bones. Without adequate amounts of this vitamin, the calcium we have absorbed stays in circulation and has been shown in recent scientific studies to allow calcification in our arteries or on our heart valves. This may be the reason that several recent scientific studies have shown that only calcium supplementation may be dangerous to our cardiovascular health. The bottom line – vitamin K2 is important to put calcium where it is best for us. If you are currently on blood thinners, please consult your healthcare provider before adding this form of vitamin K to your diet.
- Vitamins A & C, boron, manganese and other trace minerals – These other vitamins and trace minerals are important to build the matrix within our bones so calcium can be incorporated along with phosphorus into our bones.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to take the proper calcium/magnesium supplement since our diet may not provide all of the necessary nutrients to support bone health. Recent studies have shown that the ratio of calcium to magnesium should be as close to 1:1 as possible. This past year, I found a nutritional supplement from Nutrifii by ARIIX that is close to what I want to take to support my bone health. Magnical-DTM contains biologically-active forms of calcium and magnesium as well as the other important vitamins and trace elements to support good bone health
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