Calcium, Vitamin D, and Other Minerals for Bone Health
Data is rapidly accumulating on what nutrients you need to build and maintain strong bones, including beta-alanine, calcium, creatine, fluorides, leucine, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K2, and zinc. The function of these micronutrients is not limited to bone health, but can improve our brains and hearts as well!
Calcium is necessary for bone health. Osteoporosis, the bone disease which is increasingly fragile bone specifically due to the loss of calcium. If too much calcium is lost in one's bone until the bone is weakened and may fracture. We have 106 bones, and they all are susceptible, but the bone of our spine and hip seem to be among the most fragile. This is why we use DXA scans of our Bone Mineral Density to check on our bones.
Feed your children well! If you don’t lay down enough bone in youth and young adulthood, you will never have bones as strong as they could be. So in youth you need good calcium, as well as a diet that will not block the calcium you are consuming. Taking calcium with soda pop and all its fussing phosphorus may inactivate the calcium you have taken, so never take those together!
Regardless of how excellent your calcium intake is and how strong your bones are: through genetics, or weight training or extra calcium; we inevitably lose bone as we age, regardless of our calcium intake. We will lose about 1/2% per year in our late 30s and 40s, by the time we are in menopause we begin to lose 4%/year, and in old age we still lose 2-4%/year. In menopause, the loss of estrogen is responsible for the frighteningly fast bone loss over those few years. Breastfeeding can cause a woman to lose 10% of her bone mass.
Too Much Calcium: Risky
And too much calcium, is that possible? The answer is yes! In a study published in the BMJ in 2010, getting 600 to 1000 mg of calcium per day is healthy, but over 1400 mg per day, in older women led to heart attacks! Abnormally high calcium intake can also cause kidney stones as well as calcium deposits in the blood vessels and other soft tissues. So remember girls, too much of a good thing, is not always good. When figuring out your calcium supplement needs, take out a pencil and also do a rough calculation of how much you get in your food, then you can figure out how to get to the 1000 mg per day. Alternatively, come and discuss, I’ll help you pencil out the amounts!
Smile You Can Have Strong Teeth If You Get Enough Calcium
There is an old wives saying that "we lose a tooth for each pregnancy" and it reflects the fact that we pass a significant amount of our body's calcium to our growing infant and again lose more calcium while breastfeeding babies. The body is designed to quickly recover most of the calcium lost during these reproductive events, and just being pregnant wouldn’t typically make you at risk for osteoporosis. Physicians have never believed that in truth we lose bone faster in our teeth or jaws than in other areas of the body. So a group of researchers from India lead by Annu Makker, PhD, set to find out if the jaw is a place of specifically high bone loss in some women. And it is true, the bones of our teeth (and sometimes the jaw) are the only bones not covered by tissue, so exposed to the harsh environment of whatever we put in our mouth to chew. Thus bones of the teeth and jaw do wear a bit faster than in other places of our skeleton as these researchers discovered.
Calcium and D are so integrally important some researchers have started referring to them as “CaD”. Many women are convinced that exercise, Calcium, and Vitamin D can be healthy enough for the bones to prevent fractures. Unfortunately that is not true if you have aged past menopause. At some point, most women will need to consider medical therapy, along with their exercise, their D and calcium daily. The way teeth are made, they are a bit stronger than some of the trabecular bone in our hips or wrist
Much of the research on potassium and bone health has concentrated on
the amount of dietary acid in the Western Diet. When we have too acid a diet we can deplete the consumption of potassium and may benefit from supplements. Fruits and vegetables serve as rich sources of alkaline (basic pH, thus the opposite of acide) potassium salts. A diet with higher protein and cereal grain intake and in tern lower fruit and vegetable intake becomes depleted of potassium. This low grade acid environment created by the wrong diet gradually worsens the kidney function and leaches the calcium and phosphorous from our bones.
Vitamin C is also an essential component of bone health. Your Vitamin C needs should be fairly available from a healthy diet fruits and vegetables, but it is more common than we think to be deficient. In some cases this is shown by the levels in our blood stream, but vitamin C can be less available than even the blood levels show as there are potential disruptions of our vitamin C nutrition by common health concerns and mistakes. Vitamin C is used for healing. If you are exercising a lot, if you have recently had a medical procedure, or sustained an injury your C levels can rapidly get depleted. Vitamin C is also important for fighting infections, cancers, and repairing and healing after an injury, and your body will burn through it's usual C supplies if you have had any recent illness or health issue. Not only will adequate vitamin C help the healing, it helps fight the inflammation that causes pain. With the keeping your body from being deficient in vitamin C you can help reduce pain medication use. Aspirin increases the secretion of vitamin C and thus reduces the ability of your cells to grab and use the vitamin C, thus it is just sent into the urine. Women who haven't had their vitamin C levels checked might think about getting them measured. This can be measured by a blood level test or a functional tissue test.
Vitamin K is very good for our bones, especially Vitamin K2. K helps to improve calcium use in the body, and K helps the cardiovascular system and prevents some of the damage that too much calcium can do to our tissues. K2 is absent from junk food, and from some processed food. Thus it’s more reliable, now, to get your vitamin K from supplements.
Never Forget Bioidentical Estrogen Role in Bone Heath as Well
The lack of estrogen, a natural consequence of menopause, places women at risk of osteoporosis as they age. To counter these effects women may want to have your levels of estrogen and get treatment appropriately. However, many of us believe in preventative therapy, and the University of Buffalo researchers state that some women are prescribed estrogen therapy along with supplements of calcium and vitamin D actually have better effectiveness from their vitamins.