GreenFish's Blog

Calcium Does Not Build Strong Bones! Here's What Else You Need.

(Edited: 6/18/12)  Did I get your attention? Hopefully. The more accurate statement is that calcium alone does not build strong bones. Most of us get more than enough calcium from food, so taking a supplement can be unnecessary and even dangerous (unless you truly don't consume calcium-rich foods). What many of us are not getting is the essential nutrients that help calcium in its mission to help build strong bones. In fact, these nutrients are sometimes lacking in our diet. They include:
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin K
Folic Acid
The reason we never hear of these other nutrients is because the billion dollar dairy industry's only concern is what is included in milk products: Vitamin D and calcium. So that is the message that we are bombarded with. "Drink 3 cups of milk a day for strong bones." (NOT!) So we go out and get calcium supplements and drink lots of milk (I don't!) because we think we are building strong bones. We are not, if we do not take the above nutrients into account. One study showed that excess calcium can actually cause heart disease and increase the risk of heart attacks.
The above nutrients must also be in the proper amounts. Too much of anything is not good, and can imbalance your bone-building mechanisms (see phosphorous below).
Also, weight-bearing exercises and proper digestive enzymes (hydrochloric acid) are needed for proper calcium absorption. You can get all the proper nutrients in your system, but if you don't exercise or have poor digestion, the nutrients aren't getting to your bones!
By the way:
  • Vitamin K is depleted when on long-term antibiotics. This can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Excessive antacids (Rx or over the counter) can lead to osteoporosis. This is because they deplete your stomach of digestive enzymes (hydrochloric acid). See above.
  • If you drink lots of milk and soda, and eat lots of meat, you are getting too much phosphorous, which depletes your body of calcium.
  • More than 55 Americans don't get enough magnesium. Experts recommend ingesting a 1 to 1 (I'm more close to this because of my muscle spasms--but be careful, too much magnesium at first can cause loose/frequent bowel movements), or a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium and magnesium. A 2 to 1 ratio might look like this: 1,200mg calcium to 600mg magnesium.
What can you do:
1.)  Eat foods high in calcium.  If you truly do not consume enough calcium-rich foods to amount to your requirements (see chart, a supplement per your doctor's advice might be helpful.  The following list doesn't contain milk products. Surprise, everyone, you don't need to consume cow's milk to get your calcium!  
2.)  Eat foods high in magnesium. Consider starting out with a low-dose supplement after discussing with your doctor.
3.)  Eat foods high in Vitamin D. The following list does not contain any milk products. I was surprised! I didn't know about this! Also, consider getting your Vitamin D levels tested. I'm going to next month during my physical. We may discover that we might need to supplement.
4.)  If you are eating lots of fruits, veggies, nuts and beans, you are probably getting enough Vitamin C, potassium, iron, boron, folic acid, etc. Here's two sites on foods high in boron and folic acid.
5.)  Eat foods high in Vitamin K. If you must take antibiotics, make sure to include lots of these foods, as long-term antibiotic use depletes Vitamin K. This could lead to osteoporosis!  Of course check with your doctor if you are on any blood thinning medication before adding more Vitamin K to your diet, as this nutrient helps with normal blood clotting.
6.)  Improve your digestion. Without the proper level of digestive enzymes, your body can't absorb the nutrients, especially calcium, which reqires an acidic environment.  Low hydrochloric acid = Osteoporosis!
7.)  Do weight-bearing exercises. Any activity that stresses your bones builds calcium. Your body takes the nutrients that you've been giving it and puts it to work when you do load-bearing exercises. Walking, jogging, dancing, jumping rope, moderate-intensity yoga, weight training, etc. NOT swimming or low-intensity yoga.
8.) Limit your caffeine and sodium consumption, and don't overdo it on the protein, just eat the recommended daily amount, as these can inhibit the absorption of all the calcium you are consuming!
All of the above is from memory of the following books. Will edit this post in the future if necessary.
Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis & Have Strong Bones for Life Naturally by Lara Pizzorno
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones and Your Life From Thirty to Fifty by John Lee
The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book, 4th edition: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program by Shari Lieberman
Learn everything you need to know about building strong bones, not just what billion dollar industries tell you. Peace.


I'm a happily married woman, late 30s, no children, and I am always trying to...
Member since: 04/10/12
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