Written by Dr. Jewel Alfoure, ND
Our entire skeleton carefully remodels itself, giving us brand-new bones every 10 years. Crystallized structures that are woven on a base of collagenous tissues are being built and broken down simultaneously. The immaculate structure with near-perfect structural life compatibility, is always being maintained. Bones need to be always resilient, functional and robust. Many factors including our blood acidity, our health status, and even our hormone status play a significant role in maintaining our bone health.
Bone density is usually viewed as an issue of aging women as women are known to lose some bone density when they stop menstruating. Therefore many are recommended to be on a calcium supplement for the rest of their lives. Before heading to a supplement store to get a calcium supplement, it is important to note that not all calcium supplements are made the same. Studies demonstrate that some calcium supplements can accumulate in blood vessels and joints and may even impact the body negatively in a way that increases the likelihood of cardiovascular events. Moreover, the issue of bone density is not simply an issue of calcium deficiency. (1,2,3)
To Build or to Breakdown?
Healthy bones are a true work of art that is always under construction. The body is always balancing the laying and the breaking down of bones. Overall that balance plays a role in maintaining bone flexibility.
The notion that we can pile into the bone as much crystallizing minerals to make stronger bones is highly misleading. Crystalline structures that are made of calcium tend to be very brittle and can easily shatter on impact. Our bodies are designed to carve a truly revolutionary structure that is shatter-resistant and strong at the same time.
Most of the flexibility of bones comes from the organic bone matrix which is a protein and collagen net that infiltrates the crystalline hydroxyapatite. This net is made more resilient by the utilization of the trace mineral silica. (4)
Though rarely discussed from a bone-health perspective, silica plays a large role at maintaining bone, teeth, nails, hair and skin. In fact, several studies show that some patients of osteomalacia appear to respond very poorly to calcium supplementation alone. (5)
The unique qualities of silica add strength and resilience to both bone structure and soft tissues. In fact, silica can be thought of as an organizing gel that prevents the over-crystallization of tissues. For soft tissues, silica enhances the ‘pull-resilience’ of tissues while for crystalline structures it enhances resilience to shatter. (6)
The catch with silica is that it is supplied to the body in small amounts, mostly from gairns. Thus, people who have digestive issues or those who avoid gluten, get very little silica to begin with. On the other hand, supplemental silica, sometimes comes from unnatural sources that are hard to recognise by the body. The lack of recognisability of the form of silica supplied can result in poor absorbability and, in some cases, stress on the kidneys. Therefore, it is important to always ensure adequate silica status and only supplement silica from a natural source like bamboo or the botanical family Equisetum, also known as horse-tail. (5,6, 7)
To learn more about the role of silica as an anti-aging mineral read Click Here
Building Healthy Bones
Healthy bones are made of calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and even copper. Additionally, the process of making healthy bones requires Vitamin D to increase our absorption of calcium. Vitamin D enhances our absorption of calcium by about 25X. (8,9)
Additionally, Vitamin K2 is needed for the calcium that is absorbed to make its way into bone as opposed to joints and blood vessels. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is a collagen boosting vitamin that combines with silica to add resilience and flexibility to bones and counteracts any brittleness. (10)
Different types of calcium are available on the market and may come from sources that can be non-bioavailable. A calcium that is not bioavailable is one that is not recognized by the body as a building block.
In other words, it is an ingredient that the body does not know what to do with. Most of the low bioavailability calcium supplements out there are supplements that contain calcium from lime-stone.
Calcium carbonate, the type of calcium in lime-stone is the type of calcium that can upset the stomach, cause constipation and even significantly impact kidney health. On the other hand, calcium citrate has many less side effects and significantly higher absorbability. (10, 11)
Additionally, calcium citrate supplements do not require to be taken with a meal as they do not require an acidic environment in order for them to be absorbed. (12)
The Importance of Magnesium
Though magnesium is an active component of bones, magnesium is also important to include as a part of any bone health supplement as it counteracts the negative side-effects of calcium. (13)
The truth is that any high calcium supplement carries the regular side effects of calcium, regardless of absorbability. Calcium is a contractor of muscles that is demonstrated to increase depression and increases the likelihood of constipation. (14, 15)
On the other hand, Magnesium does the opposite as it is known to be a muscle relaxant that helps with constipation and has been demonstrated to enhance mood. Thus, other than the important role it plays as a building block, magnesium is an important player in the creation of a side-effect free bone health supplement.
For many North Americans, the inclusion of magnesium in the supplement regimen is important as the soils are not amended with magnesium which results in plants that are deficient in the nutrient. (16, 17)
Vitamin K2 and Bone Health
Vitamin K2 plays a role in bone density, hormone balance, healthy aging and even immune health. While the vitamin is little known and highly overlooked, currently, most bone-support supplements include some amount of vitamin K2 in the ingredient list. (18)
While vitamin K2 is a large player in healthy bone mineralization, what most supplements fail to demonstrate is the efficacy of vitamin K2 after being administered with calcium and other minerals and organic compounds.
Vitamin K2 is susceptible to degradation under harsh environments and sitting in a capsule with calcium is one such case. Thus, a high quality bone enhancement supplement is one that can demonstrate clear separation between its vitamin K2 and its minerals. (19)
Greens: Bone Health Secrets
Bone health starts with a healthy diet that contains enough greens! Shocking statement, to some, at least, as many have heard that bone health starts with the consumption of high amounts of dairy products.
When examined closely, the recommendation to consume high amounts of dairy is one that is based upon the naturally high amount of calcium that dairy products provide. Hence if the argument is to have the highest calcium food in order to maintain bone health, greens would win the battle as studies show that spirulina contains more than 10x higher amounts of calcium than milk.
Additionally, greens put the body in the perfect environment for bone mineralization as they encourage the blood to be slightly more basic. Most supplements include high quality building blocks, yet fail to encourage the minerals to make their way into bone by overlooking the role of the environment of the body at maintaining bone density. (20, 21)
Hormones and Co-factors
Healthy hormone levels are important for the maintenance of all tissues including bones. The loss of collagen associated with aging is demonstrated to be a factor for the increase in bone brittleness. Healthy vitamin D levels do just enhance the absorption of calcium.
They also act as a backbone for the synthesis of healthy hormone levels as both male and female hormones have backbone structure that is highly similar to that of vitamin D. On the other hand, some other trace minerals also play a significant role at maintaining bone density including boron. (21, 22)
Boron is known to play a role in balancing hormones and enhancing both testosterone and estrogen levels. As a factor that also plays a role in reducing the loss of minerals through the kidney, boron is a multi-factorial co-factor that enhances bone health. There are even some studies that show improvement of the symptoms of both menopause and erectile dysfunction with boron supplementation. (23, 24, 25)
Bone health is a crucial indicator of overall health and must be carefully maintained for healthy aging.
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