Bone Health; It’s not all about Calcium

Posted: July 2, 2008 in Nutrition Tidbits, physical therapy, Sports Medicine
Tags: , , , ,


Osteoporosis is a condition in which normally

dense bone tissue has become less dense,

showing holes and spaces. This happens

when the build up of bone is not keeping up

with the breakdown, and the bone’s protein

structure and mineral content are lost.

Osteoporosis is estimated to affect more than

25 million people in the U.S. More than 1.3

million fractures annually are attributed to

osteoporosis. Contrary to popular wisdom,

lack of calcium is not the only cause of

osteoporosis. Additional factors contributing

to poor bone health include but are not

limited to: low estrogen levels, poor

absorption of vitamins / minerals and lower

secretion of calcitonin (the hormone that

prevents calcium from leaving bone) related

to aging, endocrine gland disorders involving

the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands,

lack of physical activity and bed rest,

malnutrition and high acidity from typical

American diet, disease of the liver,

gastrointestinal tract and kidneys, smoking,

alcohol, caffeine and lastly pharmacological

drugs. While calcium is important other

vitamin and minerals are needed for proper

assimilation and absorption for optimal bone

health. These include protein, vitamin C, D

and K, magnesium, boron, zinc, copper

silicon, B6 and folic acid. Interestingly, bone

does not fracture due to

thinness alone; that is,

osteoporosis by itself does

not cause bone fractures.

We now know that

diminished self repair

abilities are also a significant

component. Dr. Melton of

the Mayo clinic notes,

“Osteoporosis alone may not be sufficient to

produce such (osteoporotic) fracture, since

many individuals remain fracture free even

with in the subgroups of lowest bone density.”

This is further substantiated by the fact that

older folks in many other cultures, ranging

from France and Germany to China and Japan

have lower bone densities than we do yet

suffer far fewer osteoporotic fractures. The

new osteoporosis fracture equation is as

follows: Thin Osteoporotic Bone + Poor Bone

Self Repair = Osteoporotic Fracture. Susan

Brown PhD and Director of the Osteoporosis

Education Project identifies seven key

intervention areas: maximize nutrients,

minimize antinutrients, build digestive

strength, develop an Alkaline Diet, appropriate

bone building exercise, promote endocrine

health and use alternatives to estrogen

therapy. Check out her book “Better Bones,

Better Body; Beyond Estrogen and Calcium.”

Get Strong! Stay Strong!


  1. pat says:

    Calcium is arguably the most important nutrient in your body. As the most abundant mineral it has several important functions. More than 99% of your calcium is stored in your bones and teeth where it supports their structure and is ready to be called into action for many other critical functions.1 A few of these calcium functions are muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and sending messages through the nervous system.2 The amount of calcium in your body fluid and tissues is closely regulated so that these vital body processes function efficiently.

  2. chriskolba says:

    While calcium is important a number of other vitamins and minerals are crucial for the calcium to be absorbed. These would include but not limited to magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin D. The correct ratios are another factor. So even though many are taking in calcium much of it may not be getting absorbed. So, you are not what you eat, but what you absorb. Eating whole foods also increases your absorption rates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s