From bendy to brittleBabies are amazing creatures. They take falls all the time, and—aside from a little crying at the surprise—bad things rarely happen. That’s partially because babies are so light, so they impact with less force. But babies also have very supple, flexible bones. At a young age, bones are closer to cartilage than to what we think of as calcified sticks. As we age, bones lose first their flexibility and then their density. In the worst case—with osteoporosis—bone density becomes so thin that very small impacts can cause very big breaks. This is where the real danger lies.
But beware the calcium cure-allIn “Death By Calcium,” Dr. Thomas Levy posits that the problem with bones as we age isn’t the amount of calcium we have, but how our body is using that calcium. He has found that, at least in some cases, osteoporosis sufferers and others with low bone density have plenty of calcium in their bodies. The problem is the calcium isn’t getting to the bones. Consequently, supplementing with calcium doesn’t do nearly as much good as previously thought. Worse, too much calcium can actually lead to a number of adverse side affects—including a 250% increase in mortality from all causes. Vitamin D actually plays a more important role than calcium, as it is responsible for telling the body how to use the calcium it has. However, vitamin D can increase the amount of calcium taken up in the blood, the organs, and all the other systems of the body—in addition to bones. In short,
Five steps to healthy bones
- Take a natural calcium supplement, with Vitamin D and magnesium. My favorites come from algae. They come with about 360 mg of calcium—less than the recommended daily allowance, but more than enough when supplemented with other helpful ingredients.
- Take a strontium supplement as well. Strontium hasn’t been as well-studied, but it’s a compound very similar to calcium, and it may play a similar role in bone health.
- Do plenty of resistance training. The best, most natural way to strengthen muscles—and, by extension, bones—is through resistance training.
- Lots of small exercises. Your bones feel the benefit of any one exercise fast and then quickly plateau.
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (or PEMF) This is one of the newest forms of treatment for bone density, but it’s also my favorite.
- Bangladesh Medical Research Council Bulletin, “Pulsed electromagnetic fields for bone fractures,” Syed Satter et al, Apr 1999; 25(1):6-10 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10758655
- Oz, “Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields: How They Heal”, Dr. William Pawluk, Nov 14, 2011 http://www.doctoroz.com/article/pulsed-electromagnetic-fields-how-they-heal
- WebMD, “Strontium treatment for Osteoporosis”, Oct 19, 2014 http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/strontium-treatment-osteoporosis
- Better Bones, “Key minerals for bone health—magnesium”, Dr. Susan Brown http://www.betterbones.com/bonenutrition/magnesium.aspx
- New Hope 360, “Death by calcium?”, Dr. Thomas Levy, May 22, 2014 http://newhope360.com/breaking-news/death-calcium
- Women’s Nutrition Connection, “Dos and Don’ts for strengthening bones if you have Osteoporosis”, Nov 2015, page 7
- Journal of Nutrition, “Vitamin D and bone health”, Dr. Holick, Apr 1196; 126 (4Suppl):1159S-64S http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8642450