What’s Better for Strong Bones… Exercise, Milk or Calcium? : Exclusive Renegade Health Interview

Wednesday Sep 28 | BY |
| Comments (29)

My mom and aunt improving their bone health… in their hips and jaws… LOL. (Sedona, AZ)

Today I have an interview with Amy Lanou, PhD…

The call was originally going to be with Dr. Neal Barnard (Amy works with him) but he was unable to make it at the last minute. Amy stepped in and brought her years of knowledge to the plate and I was thrilled to have her as a guest.

In this first part of two, she shared some tips and ideas that you can use to help keep your bones strong and avoid fractures (particularly hip fractures) later on in life.

This is not only for the ladies, guys… Men have a 6% chance they’re fracture their hip in a lifetime also.

Here’s where you can listen to Amy Lanou now (my comments on the interview follow in the copy below!)…

Amy Lanou

Click the play button to start the call:


Runtime: 24:33

Kev’s thoughts…

1. 17% of women will fracture a hip!

This is an incredible statistic. One of the reasons why women are more susceptible to bone loss than man, according to Dr. J. E. Williams is because of the hormonal changes they experience as they age.

Like Amy said, hip fractures are generally the last straw for most elderly people.

One of the things Annmarie and I stressed with our personal training clients (to their disappointment) were balance exercises. We had clients in their late 30’s and early 40’s who couldn’t balance on one leg. This doesn’t get better as you age – particularly if you don’t practice.

We would play catch with them while they were standing on one leg, do RDL type exercises on one leg (with our without weight) and have them jump and land on one leg to help build stabilizing muscles.

This type of exercise is essential to those who don’t workout regularly and athletes as well.

2. Which one will you chose for bone health? Calcium or exercise?

I loved that Amy brought up the wide gap between how effective calcium supplements are vs. the effectiveness of exercise for bone health.

I talk about this type of reasoning a lot – sometimes, I feel, to deaf ears.

For instance, we’re going to the Longevity Conference this weekend in Costa Mesa, CA. I guarantee there will be a lot of cool, cutting edge things there that you can use for your own health protocol. Buying and using these things is fine by me, in fact, probably will leave the event with some of them to try as well.

What’s not OK with me is if you buy some of these things hoping that it will improve your health and at the same time you haven’t exercised regularly (more than 2 times a week) in years.

Basically, what you’re saying is that you’d rather take the easy way out, than put all your energy into doing the thing that will likely improve your health the most.

Look, it’s your life, you can do what you want, but be sure to recognize this pattern if you fall into it.

The greatest overall health will come from exercise, stress relief, good nutrition, good sleep and great relationships. Keep those in the forefront, then spend some “fun” time doing some of the other experimental things.

3. Not enough information on local, organic dairy…

I suspected this was true, but I’ve always wondered if dairy is really the cause of all the problems, or if it’s the poor quality dairy that most people drink.

Amy shared that there just isn’t enough information to form a scientific opinion on whether raw or organic goats milk, yogurt or kefir has health benefits as opposed to the commercial milk having negative health effects.

I’ve used fermented dairy therapeutically in the past (not eating it now), and don’t agree that it’s always bad in all cases.

I do agree that the white stuff you find in the grocery store is not the same as what you could get straight from a cow or goat. I’m sure it has more health benefits.

So until there’s more study, I can’t definitely say one way or another. For my body, less or none on a regular basis is better.

4. Just because you eat it doesn’t mean you absorb it.

Your body is complicated.

Just because you eat a food doesn’t mean you absorb all the nutrients in it.

I think this is where some raw foodists and other healthy eaters get mixed up. If their digestion isn’t working properly then they may not have a chance to break down nutrients, leading to deficiencies even if they’re eating the healthiest diet in the world.

(If they’re digestion is breaking down, they’re likely NOT eating the healthiest diet in the world… for them.)

5. Try natural first, then try something more potent (in most cases…)

I liked Amy’s approach to supplementation. I think the same way.

Try natural first, then try supplements.

If you can help heal your bones without having to take 20 supplement pills a day, why bother with them.

The key to this protocol though is to know your bone scan numbers, eat a bone healthy diet, and then see if there is an improvement. If yes, you’re on the right track. If no, supplements are the next step.

Keep in mind, there are some times when jumping the first step may be warranted. For instance if you have an infection or are seriously depleted of certain nutrients.

6. If you supplement with calcium, calcium carbonate is not the answer.

I wonder how many of the studies that Amy mentioned are done with calcium carbonate as the supplemental calcium. Calcium carbonate is an inorganic form of calcium and is not a product that I would recommend.

If you do take a calcium supplement, I would recommend looking into whole food mineral supplements that contain silica, magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, K vitamins and more. Innate is a product that I’ve found to be of higher quality.

If you still only want to take a calcium supplement, make sure the source is calcium citrate. This is an organic form that your body can absorb.

7. The link between excessive physical activity and bone loss.

Amy explains how long distance athletes have been shown to have weaker bones.

This is a perfect example of how too much of a good thing (exercise) can be a negative if overdone.

She also mentioned that athletes are now being given extra minerals before their training to help balance out the acidic nature of their activities.

This again is a perfect example of how ignorant we are of our body’s signs to be in balance. Wouldn’t it make more sense to lighten up the training a bit instead of adding more the the body that’s in an already compromised state?

I’ll let you answer that one for yourself… 🙂

I want to know your thoughts: What did you think of this interview? What is your bone health protocol?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Mark says:

    I have been taking silica supplements for my bone health and strength and feel as though I have profoundly stronger, more dense bones than ever before.

    I read a book a few years ago entitled: Silica, The Forgotten Nutrient where it talks about silica mineral’s role in calcium metabolism/assimilation.

    It talks about how silica + magnesium can combine or transmute into calcium.

    Interesting reads, also the book Silica The Amazing Gel also talks in-depth about silica and its ability for bone growth, strength, and structure.

  2. Sandi says:

    This was good interview Kevin. I may have mentioned this before, but when I had a bone density test, the technician did it twice, then called the doctor in and was so excited.. He had never seen anyone “perfect” before. It was a surprise to me. The only thing I could attribute it to is that I had been juicing carrots, kale, parsley & celery every day for years. That was the basics sometimes adding cucumber, small amount of beet, switching out the kale for another green. Been vegan for 20 years. I have fallen several times the past 10 years, very hard I might add, nothing broken and only small bruise once. When I was a child I had multiple breaks.. left arm 3 times, collar bone once, right arm 2 times and right shoulder once. I was the tomboy who fell off the monkey bars, tripped over things, fell out of the tree, hit the only rock in the road with my bicyle, etc, etc. I just turned 70 on Saturday. Praise the Lord for putting the health message across my pathway. Genesis 1:29

  3. Sarah L says:

    One of the best books on the subject is “The Calcium Lie” by Robert Thompson, MD. He talks about the body’s need for ALL minerals in balance. Even if one eats a lot of organic fruits and vegetables, our soil has become so denatured that is almost impossible to get enough through food, so most people are deficient. It’s easy to supplement with such products as Trace Minerals Research Concentrace (no, I have no link to the company, just have done a lot of studying on the subject.)

  4. Good job Kevin, It would be so helpful if there were studies on the different types of calcium and multi mineral supplementation from food sources like New Chapter or Innate Nutrition as well as with supper foods, green drinks and vegetable juice. Another question arises when we consider vitamin K2 from fermented foods, it seems to have as profound an effect on bone growth/density as D3 were K1 from kale for instance is good for blood clotting but does not seem to help with bone density. Were else do we get K2 from besides natto and other fermented food? It is so interesting that bananas, for instance are high carbohydrate and not recommended for anyone dealing with a severe health condition and yet a fully ripe spotted banana is one of the rare foods that provide tumor necrosis factor in a large amount. But bananas increase blood sugar levels that then decreases human growth hormone production. We are all figuring this out and helping each other to make informed decisions. Thanks for all your commitment.
    For sure, exercise has been proven to help with bone density and seems to reduce neurotic thought forms, that has to also be good for our bones and over all health. If we get our exercise from working the land then we also ground to the earths electron transfer system every time we touch a tree limb , weeds or soil.
    plz excuse the rambling.

  5. David King says:

    Thanks for the interview Kevin!

    My mom is flying out to that conference tomorrow! You have to meet her! Her name is “Tangie King” so if you get a chance hopefully you can!

    Have a great night,

    David King

  6. Kristen says:

    As a competitive long distance runner I’ve depleted calcium stores in my bones – as a result I’ve had multiple bone density tests over the year seeing if I can correct. Working with my physician I found that doing heavy lifting, really stressing bones through squats, dead lifts, cleans, and other full body functional movements was really what stimulated the actual reversal of laying new bone. Not running around the gym using nautilus equipment and arm curls, but real heavy weight. I also changed my diet which I believed help. I don’t believe diet alone can reverse bone loss. I’m really interested in the Power Plate systems that are available on the market now – just set you back a few thousand dollars.

  7. MARI says:

    Good job Sandi!! Way back in 20’s I was mostly Macrobiotics, ended up with Kidney stones (not your usual ones, but with only one kidney & that wasn’t draining well at times, urine backed up, kidney would swell, & sediments would build up to make little stones, calcium phosphate ones, had to have corrective surgery and healed beautifully, still mostly macrobiotic diet then) I had x-rays that showed a lot of bone loss, this was prior to surgery, that the radiologist brought to my attention. well to make along story short I rebuilt back all of the bones by being such a walker & some wt. lifting, nothing serious but exercised. Had bone density late 40″s & I was just fine, Never had any broken bone luckily. Oh I didn’t take any calcium either at the time. The countries with the highest osteoporosis also consume the most dairy, how interesting!!

  8. David says:

    Try Strontium. This is a good bone building supplement.

  9. LynnCS says:

    Kevin, this is really timely for me. I am in the process right now of figuring out how to rebuild bone tissue. I get the exercise issue as a high priority. I don’t understand, still about what supplements I should take. My D test was good, so the dr said keep doing what you’re doing which is taking a supplement. Amy suggests not to. I didn’t hear her talk about vit K which I hear is a necessary vit for bone building. It is also the clotting vit, so is not recommended at my age. There are also different Ks and I would like to hear an authoritative talk about K2, I think it is. To take it or not to take it. Cal/mag/boron/etc. big questions. I would be willing to take no supplements and just use the diet to provide what is needed, as she suggests, but I am a little afraid to not do the right thing. There are more definitive answers, I’m sure, but there is a lot of confusing info being talked about too. I guess all I can do is do my best and let the chips fall where they may. Thanks, Lynn

  10. Karen says:

    See you at the conference!!

  11. Gina says:

    Thanks, Kevin, Excellent interview with Dr. Amy Lanou! I am in agreement with her on all key points of exercise, avoidance of dairy consumption, and supplementation. As a wellness coach and a living foods instructor I have assisted many clients in successfull turn around of bone deficiencies. I would like to share some of my findings with Dr. Amy. If you could please relay my contact information to her that would be great.

  12. Sheryl says:

    In 2004 I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and celiac disease. I have read that dicalcium malate was the better form of calcium. It is not readily available and seems to be more costly than calcium citrate. I take 8000 mg. of D3 daily, magnesium, and vitamin K2. I exercise regularly (weight bearing) and eat a healthy diet but my density scans (I have had 3 scans) have not improved. I broke a bone in my foot in 2010 doing lunges at the gym. In January of this year I had rotator cuff surgery and the surgeon said that my bones were so soft that the titanium anchor was pulling out. Should I be taking dicalcium malate?


  13. Terri says:

    Great interview! The one issue that was touched on briefly that certainly needs further investigation is listed as your #7 above: “the link between excessive physical activity and bone loss”.

    It wasn’t discussed what type of diet the athletes were eating to formulate this conclusion. If they were eating animal products, which are known to cause an acidic environment as covered by Dr. Amy Lanou(thus leaching calcium from the bones to neutralize the body), then it would make sense that their bone loss would be greater as they require a much greater quantity of calories. The more acidic calories consumed requires more bone “loss” to try and alkalize the body. There should be studies done of distance athletes who consume a whole foods plant based diet, as their bodies are generally more alkaline. I believe a different conclusion would be made and indicate that it’s not really the endurance exercise in and of itself that causes the bone loss, but the diet of those doing the exercising.

    One endurance athlete I can think of that proved an INCREASE IN BONE MASS as she aged and continued endurance exercising (winning numerous marathons and triathlons) is Dr. Ruth Heidrich. Her bone mass increased steadily from age 49-64! All as a super endurance athlete consuming a plant based diet without supplementation.

  14. Page says:

    Thank you for this interview. I quit taking supplemental calcium a few years ago at the same time I quit ingesting animal products. I now eat a whole foods, organic, plant-based diet. (I love to put the Earthbound Farms baby kale in my green smoothies – it’s not bitter.)
    This interview made me realize I need to have my bone density checked as I am 51.

  15. Anita Reusch says:

    Research has determined that Vitamin D and K2 are vital to building strong bones. Without Vitamin K2, Calcium might get deposited in the soft tissues of arteries instead of in bones and teeth. So before supplementing with calcium for bone health, consuming foods rich in Vitamin A, D und K seems to be the best way to go. Then the body will be able to exercise at will without exhaustion.

    Raw fermented dairy foods like yogurt, kefir and raw cheeses are rich in all three, but they need to be raw and fermented to have the best mineral, enzyme and vitamin content.

    My husband and I cured ourselves of several chronic and disabling conditions eating the WAPF way. Over ten years we´ve been eating foods rich in Vitamins A, D and K and avoiding nutrient poor or nutrient robbing foods. The reward has been healthy, strong bodies free of disease with abundant energy for life.

    I wish all of you the same :
    Mens sano in corpore sano.


  16. Maggie says:

    A great site to explore is Vivian Goldschmidth, MA’s saveourbones program. She will repeat what was said in this interview and has an excellent book that one can buy and follow at home. All helps.

  17. Isabel says:

    Stress, Stress, Stress !!! and calcium depletion and absorption.

  18. pe says:

    So far, only women have respomded. The guys are not paying attention (as usual).
    Or do they think 6% is great odds? Sociologists get excited only when something falls below 5%.
    Come on, Nimrod, mighty hunter, get with the program.

  19. Trong LePhuoc says:

    Is it just me? I didn’t get anything from this. It’s obvious, that in a perfect world, we’d all get all of our nutrients from food and not need any supplementation. But we don’t. Life’s not perfect.

    I fail to see any benefit from her. Kevin asked her two times on what supplements we need. The first time, even though she said she would get back, she didn’t. The second time, she only hesitantly suggested less calcium instead of more and nothing else?

    This was pretty useless for me.

  20. Ira Edwards says:

    I have seen no mention of the main cause of weak bones in young people: soft drinks.

    Bone density does not equal strong bones. Users of biphosphonate drugs need to hear this.

  21. Carol says:

    Hi from Australia,for anyone thats interested have a look at changing habits changing lives my local nutritonist Cyndi O’Meara has just released her own organic colloidal minerals

  22. Gillian says:

    Interesting talk, thanks Kevin. I take Vitamin D supplements in winter, when I can’t get out into the sunshine. In summer, I get out into the sun (before 10m and after 4pm) so don’t need supplements. I have been tested to prove this works.
    RE exercise – I was told that it’s the exercise that stresses where our muscles join the bones that really builds bone strength, and of course the benefits of improved circulation and oxygen to all parts of the body that exercise brings. Kristen commented about “really stressing bones through squats, dead lifts, cleans”, but I believe it’s not all about stressing the bones that works, it’s also working the bone-muscle interface. It’s the sharp movements, the “snatch and jerk” so to speak (i.e. correct technique) that works this interface, and really improves bone strength. So pushing weights or nautilus with the correct technique does work. Too many people do smooth movements on the nautilus; the start of the movement should be sharp, the release slow, controlled and smooth (not relaxing and dropping the weight!)
    I believe Bisphosphonates do increase bone density, but not in a good way, as they do nothing about improving the blood flow to feed the bones, so brittleness increases, fractures continue and are actually much worse, because they heal even more slowly due to the brittleness.

  23. Sarah Smith says:

    Great Article!

  24. She might not have mentioned soft drinks but she did mention acidosis as a main cause of bone loss. The Bisphosphonates decrease the osteoclast(bone into solution)which are responsible for removing degenerative bone tissue (minerals) leaving only osteoblast(bone into solidity)which ends up making the bone brittle. Another interesting fact is that some studies show that most hip fractures are not from a slip, fall then break. With so much osteoporosis the bone often breaks then the fall occurs. And the comment about the men not contributing, maybe they were doing their own research. I must admit that I only do this between clients and farm work. To all of you who contribute, big kudos.

  25. Jackie says:


    It is no surprise if you have osteoporosis if you are celiac. It doesn’t sound like your supplements are the problem – more like the absorption. Are you under the care of a good naturopath or nutritional therapist? It would be advisable to undertake a gut repair protocol and also (if possible) get the microvilli lining your digestive tract checked, no microvilli, no absorption of nutrients!

  26. Oleander (UK) says:

    Very Interesting interview. Thankyou

    People nag me as I am vegan (for 16years) At the time I started, I couldn’t do one press up! so my son told me to stand and push against a wall to begin to get strength! This morning I did 40 press ups.

    Every morning I do bending, balancing, stretching, weights and press ups (15 mins in all) Sometimes at night I dance to my CDs as well.

    Breakfast is whole meal bead (1 slice) with Marmite & Homous and avocado. Plate full of organic salad, and some nuts fruit to finish,+ supliments. including silica.

    Two years ago, I was leading our little Shetland and one of the other ponies wheeled round, kicked out massively with both back feet, flooring us both! I felt I had been ‘pole axed’!!! agony! Huge bruise on my thigh, but NO brcken bones!

    So Yes, diet and exercise must make a real difference! BUT, after my routine, I just get on with my day and have fun/ work or whatever comes.

  27. Jennifer says:

    After hip replacement surgery, I am wondering what should I be doing to strengthen the bones in my hip?

  28. Anne says:

    At the end when talking about long distance athletes she mentioned long distance swimmers as one of the examples but swimming would not be the type of exercise to promote bone density. Although swimming is a great exercise, it’s not weight bearing so would be counter productive if anything for bone density just like (but to a lesser degree) going into a weightless environment (astronauts in space) wreaks havoc on bone health.

  29. Great interview! I tend to forget about the connection between exercise and strong bones, so it is good to have the reminder. I would be interested to know what she thinks about calcium and teeth. I noticed ever since I began eating raw goat cheese, my teeth seemed to be getting stronger.

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