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The Truth about Bone Density and Calcium Supplements

During the month of May we observed National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. During the month of events and health fairs we received numerous questions about supplements to protect and support bone health. As a result, I decided this is the perfect time to provide this valuable information to the public.

I am not here today to discuss nutrition trends, diet fads, weight loss, cholesterol, etc. What I desperately need to clear up is the misinformation regarding optimal bone health and how it correlates with osteoporosis and health. If I hear of another health professional (real or proclaimed) say, “take 1000mg of calcium daily and make sure you walk at least three times per week, and that is all you need to keep your bones healthy”, I am going to pull my hair out (whoops, to late). This is the equivalent to an aspiring bodybuilder eating mounds of protein but lifting only two pound weights—worthless! Body-builders lift very heavy weights with the goal of stressing their muscles to the point where they are forced to grow in order to handle the increasing loads. Bones work exactly the same way. You can take the proper amounts of the very best supplements known, and without the proper stress (we call it a trigger event), nothing will ever happen. Wolff’s Law states that bones will only grow when exposed to significant amounts of compression or loading.

Research has determined that the significant amount should be somewhere between three and nine times your body weight, and that osteogenic loading is the most effective, safe and painless means to achieve the trigger event. So let’s talk a little about those “bone enhancing” supplements. There are currently nine types of calcium supplements on the market to choose from. The majority of bone health supplements contain either Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Citrate. Although these two forms of calcium contain the highest amount of elemental calcium of any supplement, their bioavailability (the degree and rate at which a substance– supplement, drug, etc. is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity) is the lowest. A few studies even suggest that only 4% of the calcium is actually absorbed. Calcium Phosphate, oyster shell calcium and Calcium Lactate are also on the lower end of bioavailability. Calcium citrate malate has shown some decent results, but if you are looking for the absolute best in a calcium supplement, look no further than microcrystalline hydroxyapatite. Crazy long name, yes, but you can find it in any reputable vitamin/supplement store. As a matter of fact, 50% of your bone mineral density is actually made of hydroxyapatite. If you are overwhelmed or confused as to whether your bone health supplement is right for you, please feel free to call me or stop by the office and I will be happy to help.

This article has only brushed the surface when it comes to bone mineral content and dietary needs. Watch for future articles in this publication where we will explore this subject further. For now, let’s summarize it like this. Proper calcium intake should come from good, healthy food. If not, always take your supplements with your meal. Break up your supplement intake over two meals. Make sure your supplements contain Vitamin D3 and Magnesium as well. Finally, achieving your “trigger event” without proper nutrition is just as pointless as spending a great deal of money on supplements and then never stimulating your body to actually grow new, healthy bone. Both are necessary for healthy, strong bones.

Written by Derek Albrecht

Dr. Derek K. Albrecht B.S., D.C., OsteoStrong Murrieta - JDG-OS Enterprises LLC

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