If you have read the recent study regarding calcium supplements increasing the likelihood of heart attacks, read this.
Most people associate osteoporosis with calcium deficiency that can be remedied by taking calcium supplements. However, it is not that simple.
Calcium is not the only issue. Bone health is a function of the way minerals are absorbed and used by the body. Bone health also depends on the right combination of minerals - not just calcium. Too many supplements contain only calcium and vitamin D. I have been recommending calcium balanced with magnesium and trace minerals for years.
Taking magnesium alone with no calcium will help bone health. Many Americans are deficient in magnesium. Low levels of magnesium are associated with high blood pressure, kidney stones, heart disease and diabetes. Magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker which helps to hold calcium in solution so it is not deposited in the arteries or eliminated.
Vitamin K is also key to bone health. Many calcium supplements contain only vitamin D with no vitamin K. Vitamin D tells the body to store calcium (not where). Vitamin K works in conjunction with vitamin D, helping the bones hold onto calcium and keeping the calcium out of arteries and other soft tissues. There are a few good calcium supplements that contain both vitamin K and vitamin D, and vitamin K is available by itself.
There are many factors that affect bone health. Taking supplements is just one of the actions to take when trying to increase or maintain bone mass.
Digestion plays a key role in bone health. Stomach acid is necessary for assimilation of minerals. The typical American diet tends to create stomachs that malfunction. Ninety percent of indigestion is caused by too little stomach acid, yet the majority of those with indigestion take acid blockers which block their ability to absorb any minerals.
Another major factor in bone health is pH of the body. Too many of the foods and drinks that we consume make our bodies too acid. Acidity causes our body to pull minerals from our bones to help buffer the acidity. Foods that cause acidity are meat, dairy products, sugar, caffeine, sodas, artificial sweeteners and some prescription medications. Foods that naturally buffer acid are fruits and vegetables. It is important to balance the acid forming foods with buffer foods and to maintain a balanced diet to ensure proper mineral assimilation.
Caffeine is linked to bone loss as are carbonated soft drinks that contain phosphates. Both caffeine and soft drinks are acid forming in the body, requiring some form of buffering even if it has to come from the bones.
The correct balance of magnesium, boron, potassium, silica, folic acid, and vitamins C, D, E and K all play vital roles in bone health. Yet many of the more popular brands of calcium are just calcium and vitamin D. There are good supplements available; it just takes some wading through the labels.
If you want better bone health, take a good multiple mineral supplement, make sure that you have good digestion, eat plenty of dark green vegetables and minimize the amount of bone leaching substances like caffeine and soft drinks from your diet.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com