Supplements for bone health

In last week’s article we discussed bisphosphonates, the most common medication used to treat osteoporosis and bone disorders. We learned that they prevent bone thinning by inhibiting bone remodeling. This leads to thicker bone in the short term (less than 3 years) but likely leads to weaker bone integrity and other side effects in the long term (greater than 3 years). In this week’s article we will begin to discuss the most important supplements for treating/preventing osteoporosis and supporting bone health. This week we will start with calcium.

What is Calcium?

Calcium is the mineral that gets most of the attention when it comes to bone health. In fact, it is the most abundant mineral not only in our bones but in the human body. Calcium can be found in many different foods but the amount of calcium in food is dependent on the amount of calcium in the soil that the food was grown in. Therefore, to obtain dietary calcium it is important to eat food grown in mineral-rich soils.

Calcium can also be found in high amounts in dairy products and in other fortified milks (soy, rice, almond, hemp). The concern with these sources is food allergy and absorption. If you do not digest and absorb these foods properly you are not likely to obtain sufficient calcium from them.

How Does Calcium Support Bone Health?

Calcium supports bone health by being one of the most abundant components of bone. If we don’t consume enough calcium our bones will not get enough and will not be able to maintain their integrity.

Are there Side Effects or Adverse Reactions?

Recently, there has been some research to indicate that overconsumption of calcium may lead to calcium plaque or cyst formations in various parts of the body. However, it appears that a deficiency of vitamin K may be the larger problem for the plaque and cyst formation. Vitamin K helps with the absorption and utilization of calcium into bone tissue and prevents calcium accumulations in other areas.

What is the right Form and Dose of Calcium?

Calcium is an element that appears on the periodic table. Like all the other minerals it cannot be created or destroyed. It simply moves from one place to another. In supplement form, calcium comes in many different variations. The main difference between the different forms of calcium is their absorption rate in the human body.

There are many companies promoting the benefits of their particular brand of calcium. Don’t get caught up too much in this hype and overspend on fancy calcium supplements that are not much more utilized in the body compared to the more cost-effective forms.

The most common type of calcium supplement is calcium carbonate. This is the cheapest form of calcium to obtain but it is also the least absorbable. However, taken in powder form it is much more utilized than in tablet form because there are no binders and fillers disrupting absorption. Calcium citrate is amongst the most absorbable forms of calcium and it is relatively cost effective.

The recommended optimal dose for calcium for adults is between 1000-1500mg per day. However, keep in mind that only about 500mg of calcium can be absorbed at one time so there is no benefit to taking more than 500mg of calcium at one dose. Make sure you spread your doses out through the day for optimal absorption.

I typically recommend calcium in one of 4 ways. First, I recommend consuming optimal dietary calcium by focusing diet on foods grown in organic and mineral-rich soils. Secondly, I promote the use of a multi vitamin that contains 500mg of calcium citrate as part of the daily consumption to supplement dietary consumption. Thirdly, I recommend calcium citrate along with magnesium citrate in capsule form for people who additional calcium above their multi and dietary sources. Finally, I recommend calcium carbonate along with magnesium and vitamin C in powder form for people who have compromised digestion and don’t handle capsules well. It is important to ensure you are eating vitamin K rich foods and/or taking a vitamin K supplement to promote proper calcium utilization in the body.

In next week’s article we will discuss the use of Vitamin K for bone health.

If you have any questions about bone health or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Barlow contact his office at 250-448-5610 or visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com

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About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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