Strong Bones or Weak – It’s Your Choice!

by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP

This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant for educational purposes only. Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health, and Nature’s Sunshine Products accept no responsibility for results you get, whether good or bad, from using this information. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

Note: More information about the products mentioned can be found at the end of the article.


How strong are your bones? Will osteoporosis affect you?

osteoporosisOsteoporosis is a very real problem, and while it does affect women (estimates are 200 million women worldwide),1 it also affects men (two million in America).2

Bones are living tissue. They serve as calcium bank accounts. Calcium goes in and calcium comes out. Thyrocalcitonin, a hormone produced by the thyroid glands, stimulates the assimilation of calcium into the bones. Parathormone from the parathyroid glands draws calcium out of bones.

Calcium plays some key roles in the body. It is responsible for maintaining the dynamic acid/alkaline balance of the blood and tissues. When your blood is too acidic your body has a choice to make: pull calcium out of your bones to neutralize the acid and save your life or let the acid continue to escalate and let you die. Fortunately, it usually chooses acid neutralization.

Acid depletes calcium. How does your body become too acidic?

A lot of it has to do with food choices. Coffee (yes, even just one cup a day), tea, white sugar, white flour, dairy products (you read that correctly), red meat, soft drinks, and citrus fruits all create extra acid in our bodies. Vegetables are generally more alkalizing. Excessive physical activity also creates elevated acid levels, as do negative emotions (e.g. anger, resentment, bitterness, sadness). Poor digestion, as in low stomach acid, leads to the incomplete breakdown of proteins which then release acid into the bloodstream. Symptoms of being chronically over-acid at the blood level include asthma, allergies, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, chronic inflammation, gout, and sinus congestion, to name a few of the common ones.

Calcium is also required with magnesium for muscle contraction. If calcium and magnesium are out of balance with each other muscle cramps can result.

Calcium alkalizes, as does magnesium. What would happen if we put these great alkalizers into the stomach when protein was present? Protein requires an acidic environment in the stomach for digestion. Calcium and magnesium neutralize the stomach acid, making protein digestion at that time nearly impossible. Proteins that sit in a warm, dark, moist environment, not being digested, rot, becoming toxic, and the resulting odors (gas) are extremely putrid. The alkalizing power of calcium and magnesium got spent on stomach acid, not on regulating blood acid, and not on going into the bones. Clearly this indicates that calcium and magnesium are more useful for bone density and blood acid regulation when taken on an empty stomach. For optimal bone utilization, calcium and magnesium are best taken last thing in the day so they have all night in the gastrointestinal tract with no competition from other foods, and first thing in the morning at least one-half hour before eating. If, however, you find calcium supplements nauseate when taken on an empty stomach, you might try taking them at bedtime with a carbohydrate snack (some whole grain crackers or a slice of sprouted grain bread).

What kind of bones do you want to have?

Strong, resilient, and slightly elastic, or dense and brittle? The type of calcium you take will determine the quality of bone you build. Think about the qualities of calcium carbonate (chalk), a common form of supplemental calcium. It is dense and very brittle. Indeed, calcium carbonate is great as an antacid. It does a wonderful job of neutralizing stomach acid. It is not well assimilated, and what little is assimilated creates dense, brittle bones. Oyster shell calcium is difficult to assimilate and is often contaminated with lead. Shells are not a normal part of the human diet and we simply don’t have the digestive juices to handle this type of calcium. Better forms of calcium are calcium citrate, dicalcium phosphate and calcium chelates. These three forms complement each other well when used together.

Chemistry is so important. For bone density, we need calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and a few other minerals and vitamins. For many years holistic practitioners have been recommending a 2:1 calcium:magnesium ratio. Calcium can sometimes cause constipation, whereas magnesium tends to loosen the bowel. By experimentation we have found that a ratio from 2:1 all the way up to 1:3 may be needed by some people for optimal assimilation and to prevent calcium-induced constipation. My favorite is a 1:1 product called Skeletal Strength. The body can handle only 500 mg of calcium at a time.

Some people may also need phosphorus, zinc, boron, and/or potassium to aid in calcium utilization. We also need vitamins A, D, and K2 to do the job well.

The effect of Vitamin K2

One more supplement that I often recommend when there are concerns about bone density is Krill Oil. Krill oil contains vitamin K2. People who are on blood thinners need to avoid K1. K2 has entirely different actions in the body. According to Dr. Mercola, K2 helps to remove calcium from artery walls and moves it into bones.3

Medical prescriptions for bone density are a little scary. One such medication, Fosamax, works by stopping the continuous recycling of calcium through the bone by slowing down the part of the cycle where the calcium is going out. Research is showing that long-term use of this kind of medication can lead to spontaneous jaw bone crumbling and femur (thigh bone) fractures.4 Additionally, the calcium supplements that I have seen recommended for use with bone density prescriptions are often the carbonate form.

So, what does all this mean?

What can you do with food choices, lifestyle, and supplements to protect your bones or to rebuild your bones?

Firstly, don’t drink milk or eat cheese, yogurt, or cottage cheese. While there is an abundant amount of calcium in dairy products, it is not bioavailable to the human chemistry. When dairy protein hits the stomach, the stomach acids force the calcium to chelate (bond) to the casein protein in the milk. This calcium-caseinate complex is indigestible by the human form, and as such the calcium is rendered useless and passes through the system with no chance of assimilation.5 This is an example of a ‘not so good’ chelating of calcium. It is interesting to note that the four countries with the highest dairy consumption are also the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis: Finland, Sweden, USA, and England (as reported by John Robbins in Diet for a New America). The forms of dairy that are best for most people are real butter, real full-fat sour cream, and real whipping cream. These are less calcium-dense, and though they are rich in saturated fat, some saturated fat is necessary for good health.

Clean up your diet. Get rid of high acid foods. Coffee (Dr. Christiane Northrup says you can pee your bones out one cup at a time by drinking coffee), tea (black and green), soft drinks, white sugar, white flour, and citrus fruits need to be gone from the diet. Citrus fruit is naturally high-acid, and when it is not tree-ripened it is even higher in acid. Red meat should be eaten minimally, in small servings of no more than two to three ounces, if at all. Be sure to focus on green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, hemp hearts, and well-chewed nuts and seeds (no peanuts). These are excellent food sources of calcium that can provide a solid base for calcium supplements to work with.

Use a good calcium/magnesium/vitamin D3 complex daily. Start with timing the calcium properly (at bedtime and upon arising), then balance it with enough magnesium to keep the bowels working well. Good calcium/magnesium products include some vitamin D3. Newer research is indicating the previous RDA for vitamin D3 was dismally low, so adding extra vitamin D3 to your program, anywhere from 1000 to 5000 mg per day, may be a very wise move, especially if you live north of the 49th parallel or do not get out in the sunshine every day.

Since exercise is good for your bones, but excessive exercise generates acid from muscle breakdown (it’s the breakdown and subsequent repair that makes the muscle stronger), it’s wise for very active people to supplement calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D3 daily, even beyond normal recommendations.

Exercise moderately. Walking briskly, walking lengths in a swimming pool, and lifting weights are excellent exercises for bone density.

You certainly can get too much calcium. Symptoms to watch for include dry mouth, increased thirst and frequency of urination, persistent headache, loss of appetite, metallic taste, nausea and vomiting, and unusual fatigue. Too much magnesium looks like nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, frequent urination, muscle weakness or pain, bone pain, constipation or diarrhea.

German New Medicine adds that bone thinning can be the result of being devalued by other people. Being put into situations where you are not able to stand up for yourself without facing serious repercussions (constantly being belittled or bullied by family members or co-workers, for instance) can go straight to your bones.

Build and rebuild your bones by paying attention – every day – to improved food choices, enhanced exercise programs, correct supplementation, and emotional work to deal with past negative experiences. With support, your bones can last a lifetime!

If you have concerns about your health, or just don’t know where to begin making improvements, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available.

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  5. From notes taken by the author at a live lecture given in Calgary by Dr. Lipschitz, former head of Obstetrics, Calgary General Hospital, c. 1989.

Copyright © 2016 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).

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