What is Osteoporosis and Can It Be Reversed or Healed?
- a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Calcium, and/or other minerals and nutrients.
According to a study by PMC (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health), “Osteoporosis is normally the result of a wrong lifestyle (diet, physical inactivity, smoke, dental hygiene, intestinal dysbiosis,…) and environmental toxicity that stimulate the chronic expression of inflammatory genes and alter the immuno-endocrine balance. A natural approach should face all the factors involved, leading the patients to become aware of their own responsibility, and helping them with natural therapies, healthy food, and lifestyle which support their body in the process of self-healing. Keywords: osteoporosis, epigenetics, lifestyle, chronic inflammation, intestinal dysbiosis, Leaky Gut Syndrome, acidifying diet, heavy metals.” (1)
Despite the popular opinion that Osteoporosis is due to genetics or the lack of calcium, it has much more to do with gut health, nutrient deficiency, hormone imbalance, environmental influences, and diet. As with any condition, It is critically important when treating Osteoporosis to know the cause in order to address the condition properly and effectively. Though this will be as unique as the individual, for almost everyone, it will involve one or a combination of the above with a few exceptions. We’ll be looking at all the above factors mentioned and others, though not necessarily in the order given above.
I believe it’s important to offer some perspective before we begin. Conditions like Osteoporosis are very complex as many factors are involved. A proper understanding of the consideration for the treatment of any condition requires the realization that new things are being learned all the time. What we know today may have a somewhat different view tomorrow. One could take decades and still not learn all that is needed to explain the “best” way to treat a condition and this is evidenced in the fact that after many decades, scientists, nutritionists, and physicians have been working to learn just what causes and effectively treats Osteopenia/Osteoporosis. And still, sadly, have no clue to a great degree and very poor success in administering treatments and offering suggestions that truly work. To date, as far as I have seen, NO ONE has healed their Osteoporosis by what Western Medicine offers. So it is important to know that though I’ve put much time into research to learn what others have learned, it is impossible to list here all the reasons why Osteo (in whatever form) exists and how to address it fully. As with treating any condition, I firmly believe the key is in finding the cause or that which is preventing healing through the rebuilding of bone tissue. I have found our bodies capable of healing many things but oftentimes, we prevent our own healing by not assuring we have and/or make use of ALL that is available to us. My approach is to point out all that does and does not help to make clear what to include and what to avoid to ascertain the quickest, most effective way to find improvement and healing.
One of the biggest challenges faced by both healers and at times, those seeking to heal, is One of the biggest challenges healers face is the fact that healing is much like peeling an onion. You get one layer off only to find another. Here is one of the problems I see many running into with their doctors: A diagnosis is made determined by the significant signs and from there a treatment plan is implemented. But is the diagnosis made by the true cause or just by what is seen at the time. For example, one might find from tests that they are deficient in a mineral or that they have some hormone imbalance. But is that the true underlying cause or just another symptom; a sign that something else is wrong. The very sad truth is that most “Western doctors” (M.D.s or “doctors of medicine”) since the early 1900s have never been trained with insufficient education in nutrition. They are trained to diagnose according to symptoms and prescribe whatever is considered the appropriate means (usually medicine) to treat their patient. But could the diagnosis that’s made be incomplete? Could it be that it’s premature? But not having adequate training to understand nutrition, one might make a diagnosis solely on what is seen according to what they have been taught to look at and not on what underlying reason might be causing the symptom(s) they are focusing on. Since an understanding of nutrition is lacking, the real cause may never be examined.
In addition to the knowledge I’ve gained as a nutritionist for over 45 years, I am using the information I’ve gathered from talking with thousands I’ve read from, listened to, and spoken with over the past few years, as well as what I’ve studied based on what others have learned from their research or time spent with patients suffering from Osteopenia/Osteoporosis/Osteomalacia. The following is what I have learned. And because new information is always being presented, what I have today may be modified or added to in the future. For now, what you will read is what I’ve found to address the causes stated above that have shown to have helped those who’ve applied the information. I will also attempt to address some causes or triggers that are not stated directly, yet have an impact or influence – to help treat Osteopenia and/or Osteoporosis naturally without the use of dangerous and harmful drugs that so many have found to have compounded their symptoms. I will also touch on subjects relating more to nutrition that apply not only to general health but that which will help one in addressing the health of their bones so they have the best information for reversing and find healing from their condition.
I would also add, that though I do make some distinction between what seems to be “essential” in bringing healing to the bones, I will attempt to cover them all. However, I will focus first on what I and most experts seem to consider the more “primary” nutrients and work from there. While some nutrients may appear more essential, all are important. Though the bones are made up of many minerals. It takes more than just those minerals to make them healthy. Those minerals have to be absorbed, activated, and assimilated properly to get the most from them. This means they must be in the diet, the food, the supplements, and that they are taken in, and fully utilized to get all their benefits. This entire process is affected by many factors.
Because Hippocrates (the Father of Medicine) said, “All disease begins in the gut,” I believe as, with the healing of any condition, this is the place to begin.
In my opinion, the biggest factor in nutrients making or not making it to their destinations is the health of the gut microbiome. The process of digestion actually begins prior to food making it to our gut and it is critical whether it is being broken down properly and completely. If you don’t have sufficient acid, along with enzymes and hormones, you cannot properly digest your food, especially certain foods that tend to ferment after leaving the stomach which can create many issues. We’ll cover more on digestion later but if all has gone appropriately in the stomach, the biggest factor in nutrients making or not making it to their destinations is the health of the gut microbiome.
It is vital for the health and protection of your bones to assure the gut microbiome is in optimal health. If the microbiome of the gut is not optimal, it will prevent complete nutrient absorption. Without a well-balanced microbiome, and proper foods for nutrition, most other efforts will be futile. As stated above, in the mentioned PMC study, Leaky Gut and intestinal dysbiosis are major influences on the health of your bones. Without the proper balance of good bacteria in your gut, you can lose many of the nutrients your body and bones need for health and healing because they never make it to your bloodstream to be taken in and used.
While the bad or opportunistic bacteria work to overthrow the whole system and wreak havoc on your body, the good bacteria in a healthy gut works to synthesize nutrients like vitamins, and enhance the absorption of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and others. This good bacteria also breaks down toxins making them less threatening. Though some say as much as 4/5 of your immune system is in the gut lining, 1 most make it at least 70 to 75%. An interesting note is from Anne McIntrye, author of The Herbal Tutor, who says, “The use of contraceptive pills and HRT, together with poor digestion and stress, can lead to the proliferation of pathogenic yeasts and bacteria in the gut which create toxins, destroy vitamins, inactivate enzymes and lead to the formation of chemicals which are carcinogenic. Unfriendly microorganisms in the gut can lead to leaky gut.” It is, therefore, imperative to keep the bad bacteria outnumbered by good bacteria at all times to aid healing and maintain the majority of the immune system.
Leaky Gut and/or an improperly balanced gut microbiome is one of the first places to look for nutrient loss. It is estimated that close to 80% of the population has Leaky Gut or at least a major imbalance of the microbiota of the gut. It is likely more have dysbiosis. Since all nutrient absorption begins here, it only makes sense to look here first to assure one is getting all the nutrients needed or complete healing cannot take place. For more on Leaky Gut, healing it, and being tested, see “Leaky Gut and How Does It Affect Our Health.” (A)
To assure you have a proper balance in the microbiome, fermented foods and daily Probiotics can be key. You can learn more about Natural and Produced Probiotics(B) in this link as well as find brands of Probiotics to buy, either to help heal or maintain your microbiome with balance.
There are many things that can affect the gut and nutrient absorption. Having proper stomach acid levels is one of these. Many people with Osteo (my term here refers to anyone with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis) take medications as well as calcium supplements that diminish stomach acid either in volume or pH levels. For food to be properly broken down, sufficient acid levels (as well as enzymes and hormones) are required. Many do not have proper levels of acid so foods ferment, causing many of the nutrients to be lost before they are ever taken into your bloodstream as they remain in that state throughout the entire intestinal tract. If you take antacids or calcium supplements, you need to know that calcium, is alkaline, and many medications for excess stomach acid contain calcium or acid neutralizing agents that counter stomach acid. These neutralize the acid needed for you to fully break down the food you eat and can cause fermentation, which decreases nutrient absorption and eventually can lead to Leaky Gut and/or dysbiosis. Knowing you have proper stomach acid levels is the first way to assure you’re getting all the nutrients from your food and supplements. Miss this and most other efforts may be in vain. If you do not have the right levels there are natural ways to assure you do as covered in the linked article above. (2)
Nutrition & Diet
Someone once said all conditions known to man are caused by mineral deficiency. Others have added that nutrition is everything when it comes to one’s health. Certain nutrients – Vitamins, Minerals, Fats, Amino & Omega Fatty Acids are important for bone health too. As with any nutrient, whole organic food is the best source and we’ll discuss this later. It is also important to get all the right nutrients in their best possible forms. Just as organic food is always superior, it’s wise to get supplements the same way or in their most natural state or whole food form, rather than synthetic. We’ll cover this later as well. Once we know the gut is well balanced in good bacteria, we have better assurance the nutrients we take in, whether from food or supplements, will be absorbed, activated, and assimilated more completely. If we can’t get them or don’t obtain them, we can’t use them. This is simple physics and biology! Get all the right nutrients in the right forms that the body can use, and make sure the gut can process them completely and your body will use them as needed.
What is important to remember about supplements is that they are meant to “supplement” not fill the whole need – so the best source for nutrients will always be from food first. What you can’t get from food, supplements can fill the gap. This is possibly the biggest mistake I see people make. They want everything their bones need from a supplement but worse than that, all from one “magic pill”. The sooner it’s realized nutrition is found in food, the sooner one will see greater results. The more you realize you can’t get all your answers from one pill or supplement the better off you’ll be. And it’s important to understand that no company in existence is out to make you healthy – they are in business to make money. Some may use better ingredients but one thing is very clear: Most use the least expensive ingredients that meet their standards, most don’t have a clear understanding of sound nutrition, and most add too many ingredients together and at disproportionate dosages, as well as added antinutrients that undermine most of what they put in the container they sell, as well as what you may ingest otherwise. We’ll have more on Antinutrients later too.
The Essential Nutrients
There are many nutrients that are important in treating Osteoporosis and many people ask me what the most important are. Since this is somewhat supported in some studies, I am going to make some distinctions here. While I am saying some are “key,” it should be kept in mind that this does not mean they are the “only” important ones. Any nutrient that enhances bone remineralization and formation is essential.
Let’s see what these are –
Vitamin C – the key to unlocking minerals
One key nutrient in treating Osteopenia/Osteoporosis is vitamin C. There are important reasons for this. Dr. Suzanne Humphries, among others, considers Osteoporosis to be Scurvy of the bones. (3)(4)(5) While some may disagree, this may have much more significance than most give credit for. Some minerals require vitamin C for them to be activated, absorbed, and/or assimilated. This is why almost every bone supplement product includes it. Without sufficient vitamin C, it may well indeed be Scurvy of the bones if adequate whole-food vitamin C is lacking.
Though Calcium is important for the bones (6), it is not necessarily the most important mineral or nutrient,(7) though some would try to make this point. But to get calcium to work, other nutrients are needed and one is vitamin C. “The relationship between vitamin C and calcium is an important one. Vitamin C can support calcium absorption, but too much can have a detrimental effect on calcium stores. Finding the right balance between this vitamin and mineral can be a step in the right direction for people who want to increase calcium absorption, protect themselves against tissue calcification, prevent diseases, and get the most out of their supplements. Vitamin C can support calcium absorption and can positively affect the way calcium is metabolized in the body.”(8) Because many with Osteoporosis tend to take calcium supplements* (which is not wise) and because calcium is important in the diet, the need for vitamin C is crucial. Your bones do need calcium and vitamin C makes it work better for you.
*An important note on this is two-fold:
- For many people who take calcium supplements, overload is a concern. Significant amounts of vitamin C intake can help protect against the calcification of soft tissue and add to the solubility of calcium.
- High levels of calcium in the body can also contribute to low stomach acids, so taking extra vitamin C can support the digestion process.” (8) And proper stomach acid levels are important to nutrient absorption.
However, there is a big difference in what some call vitamin C (9) and any vitamin C supplemented needs to be whole-food vitamin C, not synthetic. Synthetic vitamin C is not the same as the whole vitamin and should be avoided. Ascorbic Acid is only one of the nine parts that make up whole vitamin C, but unfortunately, synthetic is what is found in most supplements; just one of the problems with most supplements for Osteoporosis. (9) (10)(11)(12) If you lack whole food Vitamin C, the other minerals and nutrients needed to treat Osteoporosis effectively will be less effective. You can read more about how much vitamin C is recommended as well as other supplements in the linked article on “Supplements For Osteoporosis” provided at the end of the article.
The authors of “The Calcium Lie” had this to say about vitamin C: “Be absolutely sure you have the real C. All ascorbic acid and ascorbates are not C. They are drug-like chemicals that are found in the C molecule. Each piece of this molecule has important effects, some good, and some bad, but the real C has no known bad effects in humans. You die without whole vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency is scurvy (“the hemorrhagic disease”), something you see commonly in older people who bruise easily. Centrum Silver and Emergen-C are not vitamin C, neither is store-bought pasteurized orange juice. Most supplement companies lie and misrepresent their products. They will try to sell you the kitchen sink of supplements. It is a lot simpler than that. Please do not be deceived about your C. You want the candy bar, not the wrapper.” (The Calcium Lie by Dr. Robert Thompson)
Another warning on synthetic vitamin C from Medical News Today is – “a high intake vitamin C through supplements, but not diet, creates oxalate in the blood, leading to an increased risk of kidney stones (as well as binding to minerals leading to nutrient loss). Whole food vitamin C does not. It may also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in women after menopause though no studies have been done to affirm this.” (13)
Vitamin C is also needed for the synthesis of collagen, which plays a vital role in bone building. (1) We’ll get to this a little later.
Meanwhile, there is something extremely important regarding vitamin C whether it’s obtained from food or supplements. Sugar (glucose) hinders the acceptance of vitamin C by the white cells that use vitamin C by 75% for up to six hours. (12) This includes honey which is about 3 parts glucose (14) as well as almost all fruit. (15)
This brings another topic up in that even the best organic/wild-crafted vitamin C sold commercially may present issues over. Though the products are far better than synthetic ascorbic acid, most are made with fruits that have some sugars and perhaps some that include herbs that do not. The best way to assure you have organic, whole-food vitamin C without sugar is to make your own. (B) You can do this by using herbs or fruits that don’t contain sugar as glucose. Moringa oleifera, while also being good for the bones (16)(17) is also quite high in vitamin C @ approximately 7 to 8 times or more that of oranges. (18)
So the next question is where does one find the best sources for Vitamin C? There are many foods that contain vitamin C. Part of the problem is that many of these foods also have sugar and sugar in the form of glucose hinders the acceptance of vitamin C. This means that any food you have with both vitamin C and sugar will provide only 25% of its vitamin C for the next six hours. So you either have to choose foods VERY high in vitamin C so you get some or you need to choose foods or herbs with no sugar. For example, Kakadu plums have the most vitamin C of any food @ 5300 mg per 100 grams of fruit. If you ate 25 grams (or just under 1 ounce), you would get a little over 1300 mg of vitamin C. But Kakadu plums are rare, expensive, and most people choose oranges or other fruits which are a far jump down the vitamin C scale in fruit. Almost all fruits have glucose or sugars that contain or quickly convert to glucose. And many other foods convert to glucose in a short time in the body so this is an area to watch for. Keep in mind too, the glucose will also hinder the absorption of some of the minerals you need, so it’s not just vitamin C that is affected. Some vegetables are better sources of vitamin C. Though bell peppers and tomatoes are actually fruits, many consider them vegetables. Bell peppers have as much as 183.5 mg of vitamin C per serving, tomatoes have about 22.5 mg per serving. Kale has 120 mg per serving; Broccoli 89.2 mg; Brussels Sprouts 85 mg and Cauliflower 48.2 mg. There are also herbs with high levels of vitamin C and most have no sugars at all. Moringa oleifera is one of the highest with 220 mg per 17.3 mg of dried leaves; Parsley has 133 mg per serving, Garden Cress 69 mg, and Basil 18 mg per serving. Even some spices have vitamin C such as Saffron with 18 mg per serving. (19)
One of the unexpected things discovered recently is that one can get vitamin C from meat; or from a carnivore diet. The discovery found that Paleolithic man did not have Osteoporosis or scurvy yet got very little vitamin C in their diet from vegetables. In a study, it was found that despite any vegetable or fruit content in the diet, some were able to get vitamin C, preventing scurvy. Most people, of course, don’t follow a carnivore diet. The point is that one does not have to eat oranges and lots of fruit to acquire the vitamin C they need. Other healthy foods with vitamin C are liver, chili peppers, kohlrabi, bok choy, watercress, cabbage, (also sauerkraut), collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, swiss chard, rutabaga, horseradish, okra, purslane, turnips, jicama, broccoli rabe, scallions, arugula, zucchini, parsnips, squash, green beans, fennel, leeks, artichokes, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, radicchio, onions, endive, carrots, asparagus, beetroot, celery, cucumber, sweet potato, mushrooms, and corn. (20)(21)(22)
Knowing that we, like many mammals, can make our own vitamin C on a strict meat diet, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn there are also meats with vitamin C. We’ve already mentioned liver but there are more.
Foods highest in Vitamin C (based on levels per 100-gram serving) in Beef Products
- Beef, variety meats and by-products, spleen cooked, braised – 50mg
- Beef, variety meats and by-products, spleen, raw – 45mg
- Beef, variety meats and by-products, lungs, raw – 38mg
- Beef, variety meats and by-products, thymus, raw – 34mg
- Beef, variety meats and by-products, lungs, braised – 33mg
- Beef, variety meats and by-products, thymus, cooked, braised – 30 mg
- Beef, cured, corned beef brisket, raw – 27mg
- Beef, cured, breakfast strips, raw or unheated – 24mg
- Beef, variety meats and by-products, pancreas, cooked, braised – 20mg (23)
Magnesium – making calcium work
Another important nutrient and perhaps one of the most important minerals with regard to treating Osteoporosis is Magnesium. Some say it’s more important than calcium. (7) Magnesium makes things work together better and that includes calcium. “Magnesium and calcium are minerals that have very specific duties within the body. However, they also have several shared responsibilities. Both minerals work together to regulate contracting and relaxing of the muscles and cell membrane maintenance. Together, these minerals also regulate the contraction and relaxation of capillaries. Lastly, both calcium and magnesium are needed to build strong bones and teeth.” (24)
“Magnesium is actually the key to the body’s proper absorption and use of calcium, as well as other important nutrients. If we consume too much calcium, without sufficient magnesium, the excess calcium is not utilized correctly and may actually become toxic, causing painful conditions in the body. Many researchers and nutritionists now believe magnesium is more important than calcium in order to maintain healthy bones” (25)
“According to one study, magnesium may be the real key to stronger and healthier bones.”
“Abrams was the head of a study at the Baylor College of Medicine that focused on the intake and absorption of magnesium during childhood. What they found was surprising – while calcium intake and absorption were not significantly associated with the total bone mineral content and bone density, magnesium intake, and absorption clearly were.”
“Dietary magnesium intake may be an important, relatively unrecognized, factor in bone mineral accretion in children,” the researchers revealed.
“Magnesium intake isn’t just important for children – the elderly, who are at increased risk for bone fractures, should be getting plenty of magnesium as well, according to a report by Kathryn M. Ride and colleagues from the University of Memphis, Tennessee. The ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet appears to be a 1:1 ratio.” (7) “Some have even said Magnesium should be twice that of Calcium, the exact opposite of the old school of thought. Dr. Randy Baker of the University of Michigan Medical School says though some suggest Calcium @ 2:1 ratio to Magnesium, and others @ 1:2 to Magnesium, he believes a 1:1 ratio is adequate.”(26) “The DRI/RDA is around 350-400 mg. I think we need 600 mg/day, taken in divided doses” (27)
Some choice foods that contain Magnesium would be avocados, bananas (unripe is best), bitter gourd leaves, chestnuts, cranberry, coconut (dried), cod, coriander (dried), fatty fish (salmon, tuna), fish (mackerel, sablefish, pollock, ling, haddock, sturgeon, kippered herring, turbot), grape leaves, hemp seeds, Irish moss, kelp, potato with skin, pumpkin, seafood (abalone, crab), sea vegetables, squash, sweet potato, watermelon, whelk, wild rice; other choices are organic, raw kefir from heavy cream, dates, figs, flax/flaxseed oil, leafy greens, prickly pears, sunflower seeds, and tamarinds. (27)
A lack of magnesium may be one explanation for the low correlation between osteoporosis and calcium. Magnesium regulates active calcium transport, and magnesium supplementation has been shown to increase bone density. (Sojka JE, Weaver CM. Magnesium supplementation and osteoporosis. Nutr Rev. 1995 Mar;53(3):71-4. And: Dimai HP, Porta S, Wirnsberger G, Lindschinger M, Pamperl I, Dobnig H, Wilders-Truschnig M, Lau KH. (27)
Vitamin D – getting Calcium into the blood
Another nutrient considered to be crucial to bone building and bone health is Vitamin. D. “To absorb calcium, you must consume vitamin D. According to the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, without vitamin D, the body can’t form a hormone called calcitriol, which will contribute to insufficient dietary calcium absorption. If the body doesn’t get enough calcium, it will pull it from the bones.”(24)
The US National Institutes of Health statement on “Vitamin D and Osteoporosis” (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp) says in part: “While rickets and osteomalacia are extreme examples of vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis is an example of a long-term effect of vitamin D insufficiency. . . In a review of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fractures, 50 percent were found to have signs of vitamin D deficiency.” (M. A. Mikati, L. Dib, B. Yamout, R. Sawaya, A. C. Rahi, and G. El-Hajj Fuleihan. Two randomized vitamin D trials in ambulatory patients on anticonvulsants: Impact on bone. Neurology, 2006; 67: 2005-2014. )
Vitamin D increases your body’s absorption of calcium and phosphate into the bloodstream. But how much you need seems to vary and the view is changing. Andrew W. Saul, the author of Fire Your Doctor and Doctor Yourself, says in regard to supplementation, Vitamin D supplementation (2,000 IU/day preventively; 5,000 IU/day therapeutically) may be a particularly good way to increase bone density provided you also take or eat vitamin K.” (27) Some, on the other hand, such as Dr. Pamela Popper, states, “Testing is Worthless and the More You Take, the Weaker Your Bones,” and says you not only need much less but that too much leads to bone loss. She adds that there is evidence showing supplemented D3 increased risk of bone density loss. (28)(28v-video, see below) A Harvard study has shown that taking too much Vitamin D, in any form, can reduce its benefits and create further health risks. When it comes to receiving the benefits of Vitamin D3 and D2, less is often better. (29) Studies suggest that Vitamin D3 is more effective than D2, yet they are both critical compounds found in the lower layers of our skin. Their primary benefit is that they improve the absorption of calcium and immune function. The point is you need some vitamin D, just not as much as many sources state. One of the biggest abuses in the use of supplements (aside from calcium) is the extremely high doses I see many taking in the osteoporosis groups. There is not only no need for such high doses but according to Dr. Popper’s research, it is counter-effective at increasing bone density, actually lowering the bone-mass density. And one needs to keep in mind that vitamin D is one vitamin [hormone] that has “hypervitaminosis” associated with high doses, meaning you can become toxic. (28)
Among healthy adults, treatment with vitamin D for 3 years at a dose of 4000 IU per day or 10 000 IU per day, compared with 400 IU per day, resulted in statistically significant lower radial BMD; tibial BMD was significantly lower only with the daily dose of 10 000 IU. There were no significant differences in bone strength at either the radius or tibia. These findings do not support the benefit of high-dose vitamin D supplementation for bone health; further research would be needed to determine whether it is harmful.JAMA
Another source supporting this is Endocrine today. (28b) Chris Kresser also makes this statement: “But a large body of evidence in the medical literature strongly suggests that optimal vitamin D levels might be lower than these figures. There is little to no evidence showing benefit to 25(OH)D levels above 50 ng/mL, and increasing evidence to suggest that levels of this magnitude may cause harm. Consequences of vitamin D toxicity include heart attack, stroke, kidney stones, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, weight loss, and low bone density.” (28c) This was also supported by this study. Vitamin D also causes constipation in excess.
Dr. Popper is not the only one to make this statement
Another, Dr. Robert Cywes, has this to say about “hormone” D: If your condition is caused by vitamin D deficiency, it may be fixed by supplementing, such as Rickets. If your condition is not caused by “D” deficiency, it will not. He states since osteoporosis is not generally caused by a vitamin D deficiency, it will not fix it and therefore is useless to supplement. There is “no evidence” that supplementing will fix osteoporosis because it is not the cause, but is associated with it more so due to excess carbohydrate consumption, insulin resistance, and lack of cholesterol. (28r)
Something that goes hand in hand with getting vitamin D from the sun is Seed Cycling. If you read the link just above on getting vitamin D from the sun, you will know that cholesterol in or just under the skin is what is converted to vitamin D3 (precursor )that gets sent off to the liver to become the vitamin D your bones need. Seed Cycling helps you get the most from your time in the sun and you should both practice Seed Cycling and spend time in the sun daily.
It is best to have blood levels checked periodically, especially if supplementing. The previously recommended blood serum levels for vitamin D were between 20 ng/ml. and 100 ng/ml., some even setting that as high as 125 ng/ml) with an ideal level at 60 – 80 ng/ml. according to some sources. However, recent studies (and some pioneers in Vitamin D) show this is too much. The ideal level is 35 – 50 ng/ml. Therefore, D3 should be obtained according to these levels to assure against deficiency (<25 ng/ml) as well as avoid toxicity. (30)(31)(28r)
Other than the sun, good sources for vitamin D are beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fish, which contain small amounts of D3. Cod liver oil is also a great source. One teaspoon contains about 450 international units of vitamin D3. Other fish sources are rainbow trout, swordfish, sturgeon, cisco, whitefish, mackerel, tuna, halibut, herring, and rockfish. Mushrooms have vitamin D2. Portabello mushrooms have as much as 320 grams of vitamin D2. Shiitake mushrooms also have D2. (20)(32)(33) Another very high source is “pasture-raised” lard with up to 500 I.U. per teaspoon. (33a) Pasture-raised bacon (best if also uncured) is also very high in D3 containing 2800 I.U. per 100 grams or about 560 I.U. in just two slices. (33b) There are also many spices and herbs that have vitamin D. Tuna liver has as much as 32,500 micrograms per kg = 1300 I.U./gram = 37,000 I.U./ounce. 33c
Just a final note on Hormone vitamin D3, if you supplement, you must match every 1000 I.U. of D3 with 100 mcg. of K2 MK7.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Magnesium are considered the Holy Trifecta” for bone health.
Vitamin K/K2 – helps move calcium from the bloodstream, arteries, heart, and organs to the bones and teeth
This is also a critical nutrient for bone health. Possibly more than that, it is critical for the general health of the cardiovascular system but especially when supplementing D3 (or calcium. Without vitamin K, more calcium would remain in the bloodstream or soft tissue where it can calcify, causing trouble for the circulatory system, heart, and other organs. Vitamin K is also important for bone health because it activates two proteins (1 osteocalcin which requires Vitamin K and is secreted solely by osteoblasts or new cells as part of the bone remodeling process; (2 matrix GLA protein. Both of these are used in the building of bone tissue. (1) Osteoporosis centers on the failure of Osteoblasts to keep up with Osteoclasts. Osteoblasts are cells that build new bone while Osteoclasts are cells that discard old bone tissue to make room for the new. When the osteoblasts don’t keep up, bone tissue becomes less dense and more porous. Osteoporosis literally means “porous bones.” Vitamin K helps enhance the osteoblast formation process through the activation of these proteins. This study concluded: supplementation with phytonadione and menaquinone-4 reduces bone loss. In the case of the latter, there is a strong effect on incident fractures among Japanese patients. (34) Another study showed “Next to an improved vitamin K status, MK-7 supplementation significantly decreased the age-related decline in bone mineral density and bone strength. Low-dose MK-7 supplements may, therefore, help postmenopausal women prevent bone loss.” (35)
Vitamin K, specifically, K1 is found primarily in greens and green vegetables. However, most greens also contain oxalates which bind to minerals, especially iron and calcium, that can create kidney stones and lead to kidney damage. So while greens are beneficial and the K1 will convert to K2 MK4(36)(37), care needs to be taken to avoid those with higher oxalate levels like spinach, though there are other foods with oxalate to watch for. So while the greens may be good for K2, they may not be as good for mineral absorption. Vitamin K, specifically, K1 is found primarily in greens and green vegetables. However, most greens also contain oxalates which bind to minerals, especially iron and calcium, that can create kidney stones and lead to kidney damage. So while greens are beneficial and the K1 will convert to K2 MK4, (36)(37) care needs to be taken to avoid those with higher oxalate levels like spinach, though there are other foods with oxalate to watch for. So while the greens may be good for K2, they may not as good for mineral absorption. Andrew W. Saul, author of “FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy” and “DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works“, says since our Paleolithic ancestors ate lots of greens [I’m not sure that’s backed by science], and did not have Osteoporosis that it gives support to those with the condition to “eat their greens”.
Although all vitamin K is converted eventually to K2 MK4 in the body, it is helpful to take two forms of K2. K2 is found in 13 forms with MK4 and MK7 being the primary forms found in most foods and supplements. MK4 is found in many foods, most from animal sources. MK7 is sourced mostly from fermented foods. (36)(37) Many of the K2 products on the market are best avoided. Those that contain soy, natto, nattokinase, chickpeas, and alfalfa contain antinutrients that can block mineral absorption, as well as phytoestrogens which are endocrine disruptors that throw off hormone balance needed for bone building. These food crops are also sprayed heavily with Glyphosate, proven to cause cancer. (38)
MK4 has a short half-life and lasts only an hour or two but does much while in the body. It helps to move calcium from soft tissues and organs, as well as helping with other areas of health. It is the form found most in organs of mammals and is especially high in Emus. It does not have to be processed by the liver like K1 and K2 MK7 so it goes right to work. MK7 has a long half-life but must be processed by the liver first so it takes longer to work and does more to aid in blood clotting than K1. MK7 helps to move calcium from the blood to the bones and teeth. It can last from hours to days. (20)(36)(39)
K2 can be found in a number of healthy foods in both MK4 and MK7. Goose liver pate is one of the highest in MK4 with 369 mg. per 100 grams. But you’ll also find it in many types of meat, especially, bacon, beef, calves’ liver, chicken, egg yolks (less in whites), emu, mackerel, salmon, and whole milk and butter. MK7 is found in fermented foods like hard cheeses, curds, and sauerkraut. These should all be sourced from organic and/or pastured sources. (40)
As for supplements, clean sources for K2 may be found in both MK4 and MK7. Two are Geraniol (made from Orange Jasmine Leaf extract) and Farnesol (made from Acacia Flowers). There is at least one company that makes a formula with Geraniol. There is at least one company that makes a formula using both. Another company was found to make a formula made from Geranium. These have been found in a review to be healthy forms of K2 without the antinutrients found in the majority of others using soy products and fermented legumes. Another food substance found to be high in MK4 is Emu Oil. This is found in a number of products, most from Australia which have high concentrations of K2 MK4. There has been little testing done on K2, most having been on MK4. Even though some studies have not shown K2 to aid bone health directly, some studies have shown it to have a direct effect on other nutrients such as calcium, D3, and factors that affect bone-building mechanisms to make it well worth including in the efforts to treat Osteoporosis naturally.
What everyone must be careful of regarding supplements is those with ingredients containing antinutrients. K2 is no exception and most K2 products are made with legumes which then involve antinutrients like phytates and oxalates that hinder mineral absorption; phytoestrogens (in some) that disrupt the endocrine system, and Glyphosate in most. One company has a formula containing nightshade, which causes inflammation, so while the ingredients are good ones, the product has limitations.
One other aspect of supplementing vitamin K/K2 is that those taking blood-thinning drugs need to do so under the supervision of a qualified professional healer. This will more likely be a Naturopathic physician or possibly a pharmacologist along with a cardiologist. Naturopaths and pharmacologists will have more knowledge on K/K2 and in the different forms as well as how to help stabilize medication levels with it.
Although MK7 actually has more to do with aiding in blood clotting than K1, none of these causes the blood to either thin or thicken. There is a great deal of confusion involved with these. But they do affect blood-thinning drugs. This does not mean one must avoid taking them if on blood thinners but needs to be taken under the strict supervision of a professional who is knowledgeable in K2 (many doctors are not). One last thing on K2: Even though vitamin D is best not supplemented, everyone should still take vitamin K2. You still need to address the calcium in your blood and you will still be getting vitamin D which aids calcium absorption. (36)
Foods K2 can be found in are as follows: Foods that contain K1 are especially found in dark leafy greens like kale, and green vegetables as well as carrot juice, canned pumpkin, pomegranate juice, pine nuts, okra, blueberries, and iceberg lettuce. Healthy sources of MK4 are Emu Oil, chicken, duck, or goose liver pate and goose meat, pasture-raised egg yolks, grass-fed ghee, pasture-raised beef, especially calf liver, as well as chicken meat, salmon, and mackerel. It’s also found in pasture-raised whole milk and butter. Goose liver pate has 369 mcg in 100 grams of pate. MK7 is found in fermented foods. Healthy choices would be pasture-raised, raw, hard cheese, soft cheese like brie (most is not raw), as well as curd cheese, cheddar cheese, and sauerkraut. (20)(40)
Boron – enhances vitamin D and estrogen and helps retain calcium
Though some have stated that Boron doesn’t help the bones, Boron is becoming increasingly recognized as an element that has several health benefits including bone health. (41) Although the exact mechanism of action for boron’s effectiveness for bone health is still unknown, it has been proven to stabilize and increase the half-life of vitamin D and estrogen. This is important considering the roles vitamin D and estrogen play in bone building. Far too little is known about Boron with few studies having been done so no RDI has been determined. (39)(41)
Approximately half the population in the United States consumes less than 1 mg of Boron per day. Supplementation with 3 mg. of boron per day for post-menopausal women has demonstrated improved calcium and magnesium retention by the kidneys. (41) Increased bone strength has also been demonstrated in pigs fed a diet supplemented with boron. The dose given by some for ages 19 and up is 20 mg. (42) Enough studies have been done to support statements on setting an upper limit at 20 mg per day. More than 20 mg is not suggested by most experts, especially for men.
Even calcium-deficient rats “had vertebrae that contained higher calcium content and required more force to break than the vertebrae of rats fed a low boron diet.” Rats were also found to excrete more calcium when deficient in boron. (43)
Some of the better choices of foods that contain Boron are artichokes, avocados, broccoli, carrots, celery, coffee, fruits (apples, dried apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, dates, figs, kiwis, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, raisins, red grapes, sultanas) raw, unpasteurized, organic milk; olive oil, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes, others include nuts (almonds, Brazil, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts), Shiraz cabernet wine, and sweet potatoes. (44)
Some prefer getting boron from Borax. Although the FDA in the U.S., as well as the ECA in Europe, have both banned the use of Borax in foods, some still use Borax.
The protocol is 1 tsp borax in 1 liter of fluoride-free water, which provides 114 mg of boron. 1 tsp of this liquid equals 3mg of boron. Dosage should start small. If there are no die-off symptoms (herxheimer reaction), it may be slowly increased. Frequent top dose 1/8 tsp borax (women) or 1/4 tsp (men). It is suggested to maintain good hydrated. (45)
Calcium – 99% is in your bones and teeth
As you may have seen, Calcium may not be the most important mineral for the bones but it is one of great importance. (25) Calcium is the 5th most abundant mineral in the body (46) with 99% being found in the bones and teeth. (47) and the best way to get it is from food. Supplementing calcium is just not wise according to some. (48)(49)(50)(51)(52) There are plenty of foods from which one can get calcium. Those choosing a vegan diet will find it more difficult to get adequate calcium from food as with several other nutrients. Although dairy is not the best choice, one can get calcium from dairy but this should be raw, organic, pasture-raised and the best would be from A2 milk. This is found in A2 protein-producing cows as well as goats. Meats, fish, and many vegetables have calcium. One of the bigger challenges in getting calcium from plants is many of the plants chosen have oxalate which binds to the calcium. This can lead to trouble as we’ll cover in foods high in oxalate.
Another problem in getting enough calcium from some foods is found in those high in phytates (phytic acid). Phytic acid blocks the absorption of calcium, (as well as other minerals) and is found especially in foods like grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
So how much calcium is adequate? This is where you’ll find a lot of contradiction too. Although most so-called authorities say you should get 1200 mg or more a day, according to a study from Harvard Medical School, 500 to 700 mg per day is adequate. (53) Some sources say 800 mg. Providing all other essential nutrients are obtained, this should be ideal. What are good sources of calcium? It should come only from the foods you eat and healthier non-dairy sources are artichoke, arugula, bok-choy, broccoli, carrots, celery, Chinese broccoli, coconut milk, kelp, okra, parsley, parsnips, pumpkin, sweet potato*, thyme; also chili powder, canned grape leaves, canned salmon (with bones), canned sardines (with bones), crab, Halibut, Haddock, Herring, Mackerel, Mussels, Ocean Perch, Oysters, Prawns/shrimp, Rainbow Trout, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops. Many types of meat have calcium in them such as found in this list. (47)(54)(55)
Calcium can also be found both naturally and added in dairy products. There are several issues involved with dairy we need to cover. Not all dairy is equal! Dairy from cows raised in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations, also called feed-lots) is unsuitable. Although no one over the age of one needs to drink milk, if you are needing calcium, dairy can be beneficial if obtained from appropriate sources but should be limited. Dairy, first of all, needs to be organic, pasture-raised with no grains and GMOs used as feed; it needs to be RAW or the enzymes capable of helping with digestion are lost or minimized, and it is best if it is from A2 cows or goats which have only A2 proteins. Without these, dairy can be inflammatory and may work against you in your efforts to find healing. Dairy also needs to be without additives like added calcium, which is calcium carbonate and hard to absorb; no added vitamin D which is often D2 from inexpensive sources. And for maximum benefit, it should be fermented. One consuming non-fermented dairy also needs to keep in mind that commercial milk, yogurt, and kefir have sugar in them in the form of lactose. Lactose is half glucose which hinders mineral absorption as well as vitamin C. However, it has also been reported that consuming too much calcium from dairy alone can reduce its absorption, and often only 25-35% of the mineral is used by the body as a result. (46)
Some sources of calcium from dairy are Halloumi Cheese and Parmesan Cheese ((331 mg per oz./28 g), kefir (300 mg/oz.), (whole milk) yogurt (296 mg/oz.), buttermilk (284 mg/oz.), Gruyere Cheese (283 mg/oz.), Cottage Cheese (Ricotta Cheese 207 mg/oz.), whole milk (276 mg/oz.); hard cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, and hard goat’s cheese (202 mg/oz.). Again, these should be only from organic, pasture-raised cows, sheep, or goats and should be non-pasteurized. (46)
While there are other foods with calcium, care needs to be exercised when one considers including/excluding them in the diet. Many foods like nuts, grains, greens, seeds, and some fruits are high in calcium but have antinutrients(C) that will block, hinder, and/or prevent absorption such as phytates and oxalates which we’ll cover later.
While supplementation of calcium does not appear to affect the risk of death, there is an increased risk of myocardial infarction with calcium supplementation, kidney stones, and stomach problems. Supplementing calcium also increases the risk of more fractures. (56) Calcium – neutralizes stomach acid, causes constipation, heart attacks; calcifies in arteries, the heart, and organs and joints and therefore should NOT be supplemented. There are only a rare few individuals who have such severe gut health issues they can eat only four or five foods. These would be the only ones who should consider supplementing and then only food-based calcium should be explored. Additionally, the results many believe they will get from supplementing may fall short as well. In a couple of studies, it was found supplementing calcium gave very little benefit. One showed only a 1% increase in bone mineral density (BMD) in the first year and then nothing after. (56b) Another study said supplemented calcium provided only a 1-2% increase of BMD up to possibly five years with the authors stating this would “unlikely translate into clinically meaningful reductions of fractures. (56c) This appears to be very little gain for so much risk to one’s health.
One last little bit of trivia on calcium that some might find important or at least of interest. Navajo Indians found a way to increase their calcium by burning juniper and eating the ash with their food. (57)
Potassium – regulates body fluids and acid-base balances that affect the bones
Healthy bones also need potassium. It helps preserve bone mineral density. It also reduces the formation of kidney stones, which is important as so many overdo on the attempt to get high levels of calcium, especially without the protection of vitamin K/K2. While potassium, like calcium, is a major mineral, the daily amount needed for proper balance is many times well over the amount of calcium needed. (47) One of the key roles of potassium is to maintain proper fluid levels and acid-base balances which healthy bones depend on. By neutralizing metabolic acids, potassium conserves calcium within the body and reduces urinary calcium loss. (58)
A study published in “Osteoporosis International” in 2009, suggested that consuming more potassium may limit your osteoporosis risk. According to Consumer Labs, the daily recommended dose is 3400 mg (men)/2600 mg (women) with a daily value of 4700 mg and no determined Upper Limit, however, the health supplements nutritional guide (and other sources) sets the RDI/AI at 4700 mg per day for both men and women. (58)
Healthy foods that contain potassium include avocados, bananas, beet greens, cantaloupe, chicken, coconut water, mushrooms, potatoes, poultry, many other vegetables, salmon; and raw, organic, pasture-raised whole milk. (47)
Manganese – works hand in hand with calcium
Manganese is also important for the bones. It builds strong tissues and promotes bone formation. (44) Recent research revealed manganese plays a vital role as a co-factor in the formation of bone cartilage and collagen formation. Additionally, it is important in bone mineralization. A deficiency in manganese has been known to bring about Osteoporotic changes in the bone. Deficiency appears to increase bone breakdown while decreasing new bone mineralization. A Belgian study, showed blood levels of manganese in women who were severely osteoporotic to be just one-fourth that of non-osteoporotic women their same age. (59)(60)
Because Boron can deplete Manganese, it is important to maintain good levels but it doesn’t take much. The RDA for Manganese is only 1.8 – 2.3 mg (F/M) per day for ages 50 and up. However, 11 mg is the upper limit. (60)(61)
Foods with Manganese are cabbage, black and green teas, green vegetables, raw pineapple, and sweet potato, (44) nuts (macadamia, pecans, pine, almonds), seeds (chia, sesame, flax, pumpkin), seafood like mussels and clams. (61)
Zinc – is needed for Hydroxyapatite formation, speeds the healing of breaks and fractures
The body does not need a lot of zinc but it closely regulates its zinc levels. One of the symptoms of zinc deficiency is impaired bone growth. Recent evidence suggests that zinc may even be more important for bone mineralization than calcium even though it makes up much less of the mineral content of bones. (62) Although the requirement for zinc is small being a trace mineral, the need is high as it helps to form Hydroxyapatite crystals that make up about half the weight of your bones.
IGF-1, or Insulin Growth Factor, which is responsible for the growth of new bone tissue is greatly affected by zinc. This hormone-like growth factor has a direct influence on calcium utilization in bone formation and resorption. Because of this zinc has a major impact on speeding the healing of breaks and fractures that are so common with Osteoporosis. If one experiences a break or fracture, they should increase zinc.
Zinc also has a role in encouraging osteoblasts (bone cells used in the formation of new bone) which produce osteocalcin, a protein that helps establish calcium in the bone that increases bone density. Another part of zinc’s role is to inhibit bone resorption through the tighter control of osteoclasts which are responsible for breaking bone tissue down to be reabsorbed by the body. (63) Collagen also requires zinc to work. (66b)
An important note on Zinc is that it does deplete copper at higher doses, so when supplementing zinc, especially at doses higher than the RDI, one also needs to up their copper intake. The Linus Pauling Institute has set the RDI for zinc at 11 mg/d in adult men, and 8mg/d in women. However, this may be low for Osteoporosis sufferers. The limit of 60 mg/d was set where copper has not matched up appropriately. Some have suggested 38 mg per day for Osteoporosis though others such as Chris Materjohn P.hD. and nutritionist, say not to take more than 40 mg per day. Copper should be matched up at the proper ratio with doses above 11 mg per day. (36)(44)
To get the proper ratio, Multiply your daily zinc intake by two and then divide by 15 to get the amount of copper you need to consume to meet the US National Academy of Sciences recommended ratio of zinc to copper. The ratio is approximately 2 mg of copper for every 15 mg of zinc. So if you were to take 15 mg of zinc, you would need to take 2 mg of copper. If you were to follow the suggested dose of 38 – 40 mg, then one would take 5 – 5.5 mg of copper. (64)
A statement from Progressive Health on zinc said,
“It (zinc) addresses the root cause of osteoporosis and should replace calcium as a first-line nutritional supplement for osteoporosis.”Progressive Health “The Relationship Between Zinc, IGF-I, and Osteo”
Healthier food sources of Zinc are organic, pasture-raised dairy products and eggs; ginger root, lobster, meat (chicken, grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, turkey), mushrooms, non-farmed shellfish, oysters, wild-caught salmon, wild rice. (44)
Silica/Silicon prevents aluminum toxicity, assists calcium, induces flexibility into bones
For clarity’s sake, there is a difference between Silica and Silicon. Silica has an oxygen atom attached to it and you may find it listed as Silicon dioxide, so Silica and Silicon are sometimes used interchangeably. Among other things, Silicon helps prevent aluminum toxicity which is a contributor to Osteoporosis.
Silica, which contains silicon (dioxide), is important for the growth, maintenance, and flexibility of joints and bones. It increases flexibility in the bones by increasing collagen, the protein component of bones. It also increases the rate of healing of bone dislocations and fractures. It is necessary for the maintenance of skeletal health as it elevates the deposition of different minerals like calcium in the bone tissues. (44)
Terry Lemerond, (Terry Talks – Strong Bones Need Silica) author and educator with over 45 years of experience in food and nutrition says, Silica prevents or improves osteoporosis or osteopenia, it builds strong bones, helps prevent/repair bone fractures, boosts calcium absorption into bones by 50%, strengthens the connection between the jaws and teeth, it improves the success of dental implants, and that it builds cartilage for stronger joints. (65)
How much silica should you get? This is hard to say and there is no RDI for Silica. Some good sources for Silica are Agrimony, Algae, Amla, Apples, Bananas, Bentonite Clay, Cherries, Couchgrass, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Horsetail, Nettle, and Red Clover and some less healthy foods, bamboo, and other plants. Be sure if using Silica to use only dietary Silica or Silicone dioxide, not Crystalline Silica which is an industrial product. (THP) (44)(44b)
Be aware also that many supplements have varying concentrations, depending on the brand. For example, one brand contains 40 milligrams of silica per serving, while another has only 5 milligrams. According to The journal Nutrition & Metabolism, the safer upper limit for silicon dioxide is around 700 milligrams per day. Terry Lemerond suggests that you need at least 10 to 25 mg of silica daily just to prevent a deficiency. You need about 30 to 40 mg to actually build healthy bones. Other sources agree on this dosage. Mr. Lemerond adds, if you have a bone, tendon, or ligament injury, take 60 mg of organic silica daily for 2 weeks or until the injury is healed. (65)(66)
Collagen – makes up about half your bone tissue and requires vitamin C, Silica, Zinc, Lysine, and Copper to work
Collagen is essential for bone building and maintenance. Collagen makes up between one-third and one-half of your bones and is the main protein in the body. It’s what holds all our parts together, including the bones. It makes up the majority of our connective tissues and this is important for the health of your bones. (65) Copper is also required for the creation of collagen. (65b) Zinc also aids in the function of collagen. (66b)
You can’t produce the type one collagen that makes bone tough and flexible without the amino acid, Lysine. It directly contributes to the formation of bone and has been shown to reduce fracture healing time. It’s also shown to speed up the repair of other tissues and promote the formation of tissue, and the production of collagen making it crucial for healing breaks and fractures. (66)
There are about 40 types of collagen, some say 28 but there are six major types most with Osteoporosis are familiar with. Though some say Type X (10) is best for the bones, Dr. Nick Bitz, a licensed, board-certified naturopathic doctor and collagen expert, says all forms convert to the same type in the body. “Collagen is collagen is collagen,” Dr. Bitz says. “It’s always the same protein regardless of the source.” (67) Much of the collagen supplement products don’t have all the amino acids to make them a complete protein so you will need to make sure all nineteen are in it and that those include lysine and tryptophan.
Something to keep in mind about collagen supplements is some are higher in calcium. According to MedlinePlus, a website supported by the National Institutes of Health, high calcium levels or hypercalcemia may occur as possible side effects of collagen supplements. Collagen that comes from marine sources, such as shark cartilage and shellfish, contain high amounts of calcium, which can significantly raise the calcium levels of the person using the supplement. (68)
So while you may ask what supplement is the best kind, it may make little difference. But marine collagen, even though it is supposedly better absorbed because the molecules are smaller, needs monitoring to avoid hypercalcemia which would be enhanced by high continuous doses of marine collagen especially with vitamin D and/or calcium supplementation. (68)
Some last notes on collagen. Whole food is always best and collagen as a supplement is processed food. It can be healthy, or not, depending on the source. It may or may not be a complete protein depending on whether it has all the essential amino acids including Tryptophan. Homemade Bone broth is a great way to get collagen but even some commercial bone broths are not complete proteins. I recommend the consumption of supplemental collagen only if it is a complete protein with all essential amino acids, and is organic and pasture-raised. Another very important note on collagen is that you cannot get it from plants! I don’t care what someone tells you, or what some marketing slogan you bought into if you believe it is possible. Don’t be fooled! You may find something that will “boost” collagen but collagen itself will not be found in a plant. With almost one-half of bone tissue being made up of collagen, it is critical to understand how vital collagen is to bone remodeling. Lastly, supplemented collagen can have side effects.
Seed Cycling – brings balance to hormone production, activity, and regulation to hormonal pathways
Because hormones like estrogen (and maybe testosterone) are important for bone building, Seed Cycling is most important. Though we’ll discuss some of the less healthy methods to address hormones (HRT, etc.) later, we want to focus on this powerful, natural, and safe method to address hormone balance. As one of the causes of Osteo mentioned in the beginning is hormone imbalance, it is critical to cover this topic. If more people (women especially, would have practiced this very old protocol for hormone balance earlier in their lives, many may have been spared the torment of bone loss through Osteoporosis. This is possibly one of the most important things one can do for their health overall, as well as for their bones.
Seed Cycling, as this article points out, is critical for many areas of our health. Because hormones are involved in the digestive process, Seed Cycling remains key in getting the nutrients we need as mentioned in the article. Our digestive process requires many hormones along with enzymes and acids to fully and properly digest our food. If even one of those crucial elements is missing, then our digestive ability is diminished and we will not get all the nutrients needed for our health. Since Osteo requires a concentrated focus on nutrient absorption, this remains a primary point of focus.
Additionally, because vitamin D (which is a hormone) is also critical for the health of our bones, Seed Cycling again is vital as it aids in the production, supply, and conversion of 7-Dehyrocholesterol in the skin by the sun, to vitamin D3 (precursor) which is then converted in the liver so our bodies can use it as needed.
Further, even though many suffering from Osteoporosis are menopausal or post-menopausal, it is even more important to practice Seed Cycling. Many believe if they’ve had a hysterectomy or are post-menopausal they no longer have the means to produce estrogen, which is the primary hormone needed in the bone-building process but this is not correct. Though most are not knowledgeable of this, the brain is capable of producing estrogen and Seed Cycling can help the brain to produce it when needed. (69)
Without estrogen as a slowing mechanism, old bone breaks down faster than new bone can form, leading to bone weakness. Knowing more about how estrogen influences bone growth and the development of osteoporosis can help you learn how to prevent your bones from becoming weak or build up new bone strength if you already suffer from osteoporosis. (70)
While those are perhaps the more primary reasons for practicing Seed Cycling, when it comes to Osteoporosis, there are many others. Every cell and system in the body needs hormones. Sound sleep is also a key to healing and seed cycling can aid in this as well. Thyroid issues are known to be a cause or trigger for Osteoporosis and I’ve seen nothing more effective at addressing the thyroid than Seed Cycling. There are many other areas of our health that benefit from cycling the seeds and oils used in this protocol and I highly recommend the practice from pre-puberty throughout one’s lifetime.
I consider all the above to be the “Golden Dozen“ nutrients for treating Osteoporosis naturally – Probiotics and fermented foods, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Boron, Calcium, Potassium, Manganese, Zinc, Silica, Collagen, and Seed Cycling
Strontium – replaces calcium and masks true density in scans
Many suggest the use of Strontium which is found in many “bone support” products. Many have asked me about using it. Some doctors and others say it’s good but what measure is used to define ‘good’ is what you have to ask. Some define that as being denser and that is for most, answered by an x-ray scan known to users as a DEXA or DXA scan. But what is mistaken as strength by density leaves many believing their bones are stronger when they are not necessary, only shadowed by a mask provided by the strontium. This is because strontium, being a heavier metal, actually replaces calcium in the bones. (71)(72)
There are other things to consider. Strontium in the U.S. has only been allowed as Strontium Citrate, which has tremendous drawbacks, and health consequences that we’ll cover later. “On the other hand, the oral intake of 2 gm/day of strontium ranelate has said to improve bone strength and reduce fracture rates in women with osteoporosis in Europe, but there are reports of increased risks of venous blood clots and memory loss. (71)(73) Strontium also accumulates in the body and remains there long term. (71) Therefore, strontium may need more evaluation before it becomes a routine treatment of osteoporosis.” (41) One must make their own choice on strontium but in this nutritionist’s opinion, it is one supplement better done without.
Are there other nutrients that are important? Absolutely!
When you consider all the nutrients we need to maintain optimal health of the whole organism, it makes sense that (for the most part) what is good for the body, is good for the bones and this is true to a major extent. There are, however, exceptions. We’ll go into this more soon. But other nutrients that aid bone health directly or perhaps less directly are important too.
Though many get higher amounts of vitamin A when using Cod Liver Oil, especially, during the Follicular phase of Seed Cycling, other days may be less but vitamin A is important for the bones all the time.
Vitamin A is important for the bones indirectly in that it helps boost and maintain the immune system. (20) But it also affects bones directly. It was shown in laboratory studies that retinoic acid (which the body makes from vitamin A) stimulates osteoclasts but suppresses osteoblasts. That’s why even mild excesses of vitamin A appear to increase the risk of fracture. But in a study of men, it was found that a deficiency of vitamin A is also linked to an increased likelihood of fracture. So it’s important to make sure you get some in your diet each day or every two or three days but not too much. A 4-year study of 958 men and women found that the average daily consumption of 2,000 to 3,000 IU per day (600 to 900 mcg) was associated with the highest bone mineral densities.
Most meat and some fish are high in vitamin A. Beef liver has over 30,000 I.U. in just 3 oz. and almost 14,000 I.U. in 3 oz. of chicken. 1 cup of whole milk has 306 units and 1 oz. of hard cheese about 300 units. 1 medium egg has 84, and 1 tablespoon of butter as much as 355 I.U. Fruits and vegetables don’t have true vitamin A but do have carotenoids that convert partially to vitamin A. (74) Fish oils are very high in vitamin A. Cod Liver Oil, Krill Oil, and other marine sources have vitamin A.
The “B” vitamins are also beneficial for bone health. B1 enhances the gastrointestinal tract, and it stimulates digestion. B2 plays a role in the electron transport system for cellular energy as well as in the processing of amino acids and fats, which aids in bone-building ability. It also has antioxidant properties that slow aging as well as benefiting the digestive tract. B3 aids the digestive tract and the absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats making it essential in nutrition. Vitamin B5 stimulates physical growth and reduces fatigue. Building new bone takes work and the more your body is able to maintain high levels of energy, the better it can build new bone. B5 also aids hormone stimulation which enhances the hormones needed for bone growth. Vitamin B6 is significant to protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism which provides the energy you need to grow new bone. It also helps in the synthesis of collagen. B7 helps reduce insulin resistance which is thought to down-regulate blood-building mechanisms and we know that osteocalcin levels are lower in type 2 diabetics. In addition, we know that insulin resistance is also caused by factors that cause bone resorption. (75) B9 is also important for bone health and B9 deficiency has shown to decrease bone density and increase the risk of fractures. In conjunction with a bone-friendly diet, folate suppresses bone resorption. Vitamin B12 may help support your bone health. One study in more than 2,500 adults showed that people with a vitamin B12 deficiency also had lower than normal bone mineral density. (20). You can learn more about the complex of B vitamins in this article which includes information on interactions and more.
Even Vitamin E gets in on the support of the bones though indirectly through its high anti-oxidative nature as it has a potency for repairing tissue. Vitamin E also is helpful for keeping hormones balanced. (20) However, while some vitamin E is good, like vitamins A and D, too much is not. (76) A recent study, published in the journal Nature Medicine further suggests that too much vitamin E may even weaken your bones. (77)
CoQ10 is another nutrient that is important to bone health. Coenzyme Q, also known as ubiquinone, is a coenzyme family that is commonly found in animals and most bacteria. In humans, the most common form is Coenzyme Q₁₀ or ubiquinone-10. CoQ₁₀ is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.
Typically, 90-200 mg of CoQ10 per day are recommended, though some conditions may require higher dosages of 300-600 mg. Ubiquinol Dosage For the first 2-3 weeks, 200-300mg per day is a recommended level to replenish the body’s ubiquinol levels. Later, a maintenance dose of 100-200mg per day should be enough. Co77b
CoQ10 can have some side effects and one particular interaction those taking blood thinners need to be aware of: CoQ10 might make blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), less effective. This could increase the risk of blood clots. Other concerns may apply to those with high or low blood pressure, receiving chemotherapy, or who smoke. (78)
Maca also has benefits for addressing osteoporosis. Maca can be effective in the treatment of osteoporosis as well as relieve pain and stiffness in affected joints. It also enhances the functioning of the bone remodeling by increasing proliferation of osteoblasts, aiding in the formation of new bone tissue. (141) (142)
Phosphorus is also important to your bones. It’s found in bones, teeth, and the protoplasm and nucleus of every cell. The role of phosphorus is to build healthy bones and teeth (in combination with calcium). It aids in healthy digestion, eliminating toxins from the body, preventing fatigue and weakness, helping to prevent osteoporosis. It is also beneficial for aiding digestion, protein metabolism, cell repair, and regulating hormones, such as those needed to build bone tissue. (47)
Sulfur (MSM) is also helpful as it works with vitamin C because your body uses organic sulfur to create new, healthy cells, and connective tissue. (47)
Lysine “helps the body absorb calcium and reduces the amount of calcium that is lost in the urine. Since calcium is crucial for bone health, some researchers think lysine may help prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis.” (47l)
Though I believe one should first get their nutrients from food, we need to keep in mind that many of the foods available have less than optimal amounts. Our food is not all it ought to be and once was so considering a “whole-food” (and preferably organic) multivitamin may be helpful to assure what you get all that you need that you may not from food. I have provided some help here in finding individual Vitamin & Mineral<<[two links] Supplements as well as in Choosing the Right Whole Food Multivitamins.
(Other pages are available in the eBook found here🙂
Links will be listed on the final page but you may access all links above
As a complement to this, I would also encourage checking out the Supplements For Osteoporosis article with a list of supplements with links for purchase.
Stay tuned, there more to come . . .
Written by Douglas K. Johnson – Life, Health and Wellness Coach, Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Author
This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.
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