Sunday, February 19, 2006
How to Protect Your Bones -- Calcium is Not the Entire Solution
My last post on "Big Study Confirms Calcium Pills Alone Will Not Prevent Osteoporosis" cuts through the hype of recent news, to explain what the study really says about calcium. So what do you do with all of this information?
Here are some guidelines to help you protect your bones.
- Use supplements to supplement the diet, not replace it, and get your calcium from a variety of both plant and animal dietary sources. Food sources have the benefit of providing other synergistic, protective nutrients along with calcium.
- Choose your calcium supplement carefully – do not choose it based on price alone. Be aware that when it comes to pills, not all calcium supplements are created equal and many are not in a form that can be well absorbed. Look for a chelated form of calcium, such as calcium citrate and make sure your supplement also has magnesium and other trace minerals. Some people may also benefit from vitamin K. It is the synergistic effect of these other nutrients that allows calcium supplements to be of benefit.
- Be sure you are getting just the right amount of healthy fat and protein for your size and activity level. Either too little or too much is not good for your bones.
- Take steps to ensure your diet is not excessively acid-forming. If it is, this can rob your bones of calcium.
- Get your serum 25 (OH) vitamin D levels tested periodically and supplement accordingly. Insufficient levels of vitamin D are implicated in osteoporosis as well as a host of other chronic diseases.
- If you have digestive issues, get help to fix them. Even minor symptoms of poor digestion can be a sign that you are not effectively absorbing the essential nutrients from your food and supplements. Some dietary modifications and the use of some additional targeted digestive aids may be helpful.
- Get your serum homocysteine levels tested periodically. Increased blood levels of this harmful compound is detrimental to your bone health and can be remedied by a combination of nutritional supplements, including folic acid.
- Get enough, and the right type, of physical activity. Proper exercise – both weight bearing and muscle strengthening – is a major contributor to bone mineral density.