Myths about Bone Health and Why You Need the Facts
By Holly Lucille ND, RN.
Ask any woman if calcium affects bone health, and she will reply; YES
Ask her if she feels secure that she gets enough calcium by eating dairy and taking a calcium supplement and she will most likely answer: YES
Now, ask her if that pretty much sums up what she knows about bone health and you guessed it...once again she’ll state a resounding, YES
My answer is NO, that’s not enough
There’s much more you need to understand about your bone health
Here’s the facts
Approximately 44 million American women and men aged 50 and older have osteoporosis (severe bone loss) or osteopenia (mild bone loss), with women being affected about twice as often as men.1 At least 1.5 million fractures of the hip, vertebra (back or neck), or wrist occur each year in the United States as a result of osteoporosis, and the annual cost of treating this disorder is nearly $14 billion and rising.
Bone is living tissue that remodels and regenerates 24 hours a day. In fact, every eight years, you have a whole new skeleton. By age 30, peak bone mass is determined. This makes it even more important to begin a bone-building program as early as possible.
No bones about it…this is an important issue
We’re going to take a closer look at bone health in the next few issues. I want you to be the one "in the know" at the next coffee get-together. When your friend says; I know I get enough calcium because I drink milk and take a supplement, I want you to chime in:
"Not so fast sister-let’s take a closer look at this !"
Did you know that without certain nutrients like Vitamin D, calcium alone has very little effect on bone health?
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and keep PTH levels in check. Of course you’re wondering what that is. It stems back to the fact that hormones have a direct effect on bone health. The thyroid gland releases two hormones especially critical to the bone remodeling process. One is PTH, Parathyroid hormone. It regulates blood calcium levels. When blood calcium levels are low, the thyroid releases more PTH. This hormone increases bone cell formation activity, which releases calcium into the blood and increases calcium absorption from the kidneys. As a result, more calcium is absorbed from the diet, and less is lost in the urine.
How did we get on PTH, weren’t we talking about vitamin D?
I haven’t digressed, stick with me. Back to that first line, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and keep PTH levels in check. That’s important because vitamin D deficiency has been linked to excessive PTH secretion and to an increase in hip fractures and bone loss.
So, should I take vitamin D and not worry about calcium?
Actually, they work together. Results of research indicate taking vitamin D with calcium results in better bone health than if either were taken alone. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption.
You can get vitamin D in various ways.
- Skin synthesizes vitamin D from sunlight, so try to get a little sun every day if possible.
- Food sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, cold-water fish, butter, egg yolks, and fortified products.
- Vitamin D is safe at doses of 400 IU per day.
Do you homework when picking a calcium supplement. Become a supplement super sleuth. Don’t choose just by what’s advertised on TV
I hope you’re starting to see there’s much more to the story than just calcium. In my next newsletter we’ll explore the use of milk and milk products as a calcium source...and its relation to vitamin D. We’ll also take a look at the vast amount of ideas out there on the different types of calcium and what you should be taking.
Congratulations. You’re on your way to being a "myth buster" when it comes to bone health and supplementation.
Author Holly Lucille is a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of California.
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How Much Calcium Do We Need?
Find the recommended amount of calcium for your age.