Keeping Your Bones Healthy Isn’t All About Calcium… : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Tuesday Dec 6 | BY |
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calcium osteoporosis strong walls bones
To build bones as strong as these Incan walls, you need more than a calcium pill. (Outside of Urubamba, Peru)

Ask any doctor or old-school nutritionist about what you should do to strengthen your bones and they’ll tell you two things. First, they’ll tell you to exercise. Second, they’ll tell you to take X milligrams of calcium daily.

The good news is that they’re kind of right. Exercise will strengthen bones and calcium does play a role in building healthy bones, but it’s only part of a much more complex system.

Just because bone is made with calcium doesn’t mean calcium can fix it.

Over 90% of the calcium in your body is found in bone (which is about 70% calcium.) When bones start to deteriorate, the old way of thinking is that they need more calcium, so doctors have recommended a calcium supplement and washed their hands clean. But this method isn’t precise, nor all that effective. Getting this method to work is similar to attempting to fix a broken glass by adding more broken glass pieces to it. It won’t work. The addition of more glass into the equation just makes a bigger mess and doesn’t address what it takes to actually make a solid piece of glass. When you have bad bones, you can’t just add calcium to them and hope they work. You have to understand the function of bone, how it’s formed and what other nutrients are essential in it’s formation.

So bones, yes, are made with calcium, but – no – calcium isn’t the only answer to making them stronger. It’s much more complex than that.

A more complete recipe for bone health.

So, you need calcium, but where do you get it from?

It depends.

You have to hone in on what is causing the bone loss in the first place. Low hormone levels? Acidic diet? Coffee and other caffeinated drinks? Excessive alcohol? Too much sugar?

All of these can contribute to your bone loss, so just taking a supplement or two isn’t always the best recommendation – particularly if you’re a diet soda slugging, cake eating, menopausal mess. (I say that lovingly!) In this case, looking to get your nutrients by adding some whole foods to your diet – while changing nothing else – may not be the best solution either.

The place to start is with a bone scan. Any doctor can get set you up with one and your results will give you a baseline as to what approach you need to take.

If you’re bones are relatively healthy, then you can take a whole foods nutrient approach. This pretty much means you can add foods that contain certain bone promoting nutrients and then monitor your progress. You can also eliminate some of the more well known bone destroying culprits and get – likely – even better results.

If you’re bones are not so healthy, then you may need more than just whole foods – this doesn’t mean that whole foods aren’t part of the equation… they are. Whole foods in this case will accompany a supplement regimen that is more than a little walking and taking calcium supplements.

In some extreme cases, Dr. J. E. Williams has explained to me that he will use bone drugs temporarily to halt any further deterioration. You may find this strange, but he’s found they can help for the short term, while he implements a solid long term plan with a patient.

But back to calcium…

Most calcium supplements are not usable and actually may cause harm.

Calcium carbonate, the most common form of calcium you’ll find in supplements, is not easily used by the body. In fact, some have linked taking too much calcium carbonate with kidney stones. Clearly, this is a medical model of health – you take a supplement that isn’t necessarily intended for the body, your body kind of uses it – kind of doesn’t, and then you get some unintended side-effect.

A more readily absorbable form of calcium is calcium citrate. You can find high quality supplements at the health food store that have this form of calcium – not calcium carbonate.

So now that you have your calcium covered, what else?

Calcium is just one part of the equation…

In “The Complete Bone Health Program” Dr. Williams outlines a list of other nutrients that are essential for bone health.

Here’s what he says…

“The foundational supplements include calcium, magnesium, potassium and in some cases phosphorus, if you’re a long-term vegetarian, trace elements like manganese and boron, and vitamin D3, a critical nutrient for bone, and vitamin K1. The form, in terms of expense and absorption, the citrate form for calcium, magnesium as well as potassium, are the ones I typically will choose in the clinic. There are more absorbable forms but the price goes up accordingly and they’re not all that necessary.”

He also mentions this other essential bone building nutrient found in plants…

“Nettles and horsetail that contain silicon. Silicon is an important trace element for bone health, also for nails, skin and hair. For vegans and vegetarians as well as healthy eclectic eaters, the addition of herbal teas, the addition of these herbal substances in your supplement, your broad-based bone health supplement, as well as taking them by themselves or in a special formula for skin, bones and hair, is very useful.”

So your bone health equation gets more complicated as you understand the details and realize that it takes more than calcium to build bone.

Dairy is not the best option.

While some may argue that dairy is a good source of calcium, they may not be correct. Here’s why.

It has nothing to do with animals being treated poorly or drinking a substance from some other animals nipples for me.

It’s a basic understanding of the phosphorus content of milk. Too much phosphorus can strike the acid / alkaline balance of your body out of whack causing you to leach calcium from your bones to balance your blood and body pH.

So while there is calcium in your milk, your best bet to get it naturally is by eating plant foods (particularly greens, seeds and nuts.)

If you choose to drink milk or cheese, just be aware that you may be doing harm while you think you’re doing good. The best way to keep track of what is happening with your bones, no matter what you eat, is to do a bone scan on a somewhat regular basis.

Alkalinity seems to be the way to strong bones.

Feeding off of the challenges with diary as related to bone loss, a diet rich in alkaline foods like plants and greens seems to be the most effective to prevent deteriorating bone. (Though this isn’t always the case.)

Supplements and herbs taking smartly can assist where your great diet leaves off and – please note – regardless of what any “expert” says, bone loss can be reversed. Dr. Williams says that at least 80% of his patients have improved bone scans after using his protocols (and I’m guessing the reason it’s not closer to 100% is compliance, not effectiveness!)

Stay tuned tomorrow, when I give you more ideas to protect yourself from bone loss as you age!

Your question of the day: Do you do anything naturally to prevent bone loss? What is it?

Also, we’re running a week long special on Dr. Williams’ “The Complete Bone Health Solution” program! This is over 2 hours of audio and transcripts that will give you his complete bone health supplement and food recommendations.

Here’s where you can get that now…

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 — 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.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Tara Burner says:

    I don’t… perhaps I should…
    but seeing how I eat all kinds of plants, herbs and no dairy…I may be ok
    however don’t take any supplements or anything…
    who knows…
    looking forward to tomorrow’s post 🙂

  2. Marie says:

    I eat plenty of greens (Kale, Collards, Dandelion greens, etc.) and make sure to add a splash of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice! I am told the splash of lemon or lime juice increases the absorption of the calcium (and other nutrients and minerals too….)! I also try to get regular daily exercise…preferably weight bearing! Enjoy your site! Thanks for all you do!

  3. poodly says:

    what about the problem of radioactive Strontium being detected in large amounts coming from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster??? Do we need to step up the effort to protect our bones from Strontium with its loooooong half-life?
    And how do we know the greens these days aren’t contaminated by Strontium or other isotopes like Cesium?? Help! I do want to protect my Bones from this scourge that leads to bone cancer (leukemia). They already show a major uptick in leukemia cases near Fukushima now…

  4. HawaiiAna says:

    Comfrey. Yes, I know it got bad publicity, but all of it is nothing more than a load of bs. Comfrey is an awesome plant and very versatile too. In the summer I used to put it in my smoothies. Its great for skin as well.

  5. JoAnne Stanley says:

    just found out I am in early rheumatoid arthritis, while a bone scan showed pretty fair results……not in the ‘red’ zone in any area.
    Here’s my question……didn’t I just get a great dose of radiation with this scan? and so advising bone scans ‘often’……isn’t that dangerous?? thanks in advance, JoAnne

  6. Alicia says:

    my 24 yr. old daughter has osteoporosis. It’s genetic. We eat very healthy in my home, so it’s not the food. Also, several of her cousins have either osteoporosis or osteopenia which is pre-osteoporosis. How can we deal with this since we do not want her to take bone drugs?
    Thanks Kevin!

  7. Lynn says:

    I am SO surprised neither you nor Dr.Williams mentioned ‘Strontium’ (the non-radioactive kind!)
    Strontium has been proven far more important than calcium in creating & maintaining bone health, preventing & improving osteoporosis, & building new bone tissue.
    Do a search on ‘strontium & osteoporosis’ to learn more.

  8. LynnCS says:

    Kevin and Annmarie. I like supporting your efforts. Not able to get the pkg right now. Hopefully will soon. I do so appreciate all your research and efforts to bring us all this great info.

    I am eating a diet rich in Greens, some seeds and nuts. I do find it hard to lose weight and or keep from gaining weight when I include nuts. I love them and can over do. For that reason I’m not going to use them for now. I need to look up what nutrients are in each food ingredient to give me the best sources of those nutrients.

    I have your raw D3 and still don’t quite understand the vit K issue. I have always understood it should be K2 and you quote the doctor here as it being K1. I do understand some of the differences are about blood clotting, but am confused about the exact needs and which to take or find in my food for the bone issue without taxing the platelets.

    I am learning a lot more about silica. You call it silicon in your quote. I thought silicon is sand. Maybe it is the same. My doctor said to forget it. It has no value. OK? Now I am learning some of the food it is in. How do I know how much to eat? It’s all a puzzle to me.

    Boron…Another thing that I have taken in a combo Calcium (wrong kind), Magnesium, and boron supplement for so many years I forget how long. No help, or at least not enough or the right kind to help.

    What else is in the equation? Exercise, of course, but as far as nutrition/supplementation, I’m learning, but not fast enough. I thought I knew and thought I was doing all the right things. The Dexa says I’m not!!! I do also believe some medicines I have taken have contributed. That is troubling. Something for everyone to be aware of and to question when given any drug.

    Kind regards to you both for all you do. I do expect to improve this situation. There is no way I am going to be sick with this going into the next 20+ years. My plans don’t include being down with osteoporosis.

  9. viola says:

    1)jumping on a rebounder or with jumping rope for 20 min a day,
    2)weight lifting,
    3)baking soda with lemon juice,
    4)vit D 5K a day (i live in WA),
    5)green smoothies with half lime or lemon (peeled) and some magnesium citrate (to neutralize oxalates)

  10. Jean Hart says:

    I’m very similar to Viola -(just before this comment).
    I use a rebounder 4-5 X a week, drink a green drink
    every day, take extra magnesium (Calm) and monitor my
    pH before going to bed to make sure I’m swinging into
    an alkaline phase (pH moving toward 7 and higher). Also, taking a good mineral complex for all the other minerals that help build bone.
    To Great Health! -Jean Hart

  11. corekey says:

    Regarding a complete bone health program..the better balances of vitamins,minerals supplements along with anyones eating is note worthy. Yet, could Dr. Williams expand by discussing how to build or have the bone marrow to start making more RBC (WBC,hemag.).What are the variables for exercising considering those issues. Have discovered amazing input for my body & nutrient absorption by using machines that produce purer alka.water w/ORP’s. The “community network” here is awesome.

  12. ANNIE says:

    Several months ago I was introduced to an article entitled, The Calcium Conspiracy”, and ever since then I have chosen to get my Calcium in the form of Calcium Phosphate (which is the most digestible). Being a naturalist, I use a teaspoon of Oatstraw, Horsetail, Comfrey and Red Raspberry Leaves in my daily smoothie. I also start my day with a quart of filtered water with the juice of one or two fresh lemons to give my liver a daily cleansing.

  13. Sandy says:

    Your article has a “typo”. It should be silica not silicone. Please correct this. Nobody should be injesting silicone!

  14. Connie says:

    To JoAnne…if you have thyroid disorders then get your iodine levels checked. If you have low iodine levels then you will absorb more radioactive iodine from Scans etc.

    When calcium levels in the blood are too low, the parathyroid glands release extra PTH, which leeches calcium from the bones and stimulates calcium reabsorption in the kidney. On the other hand, if the level of calcium in the blood is too high, the glands drop hormone production. Problems can occur if the parathyroids are overactive or underactive.
    Don’t forget also that without magnesium, calcium may be not fully utilized.
    Our bodies still retain calcium and not magnesium although we tend to eat much more dairy than our ancestors. In addition, our sugar and alcohol consumption is higher than theirs, and both sugar and alcohol increase magnesium excretion through the urine. Our grains, originally high in magnesium, have been refined, which means that the nutrient is lost in the refining process. The quality of our soil has deteriorated as well, due to the use of fertilizers that contain large amounts of potassium a magnesium antagonist. This results in foods lower in magnesium than ever before.

    Magnesium is needed for calcium absorption. Without enough magnesium, calcium can collect in the soft tissues and cause one type of arthritis. Not only does calcium collect in the soft tissues of arthritics, it is poorly, if at all, absorbed into their blood and bones. But taking more calcium is not the answer; it only amplifies the problem. In fact, excessive calcium intake and insufficient magnesium can contribute to both of these diseases. Magnesium taken in proper dosages can solve the problem of calcium deficiency.

    Because magnesium suppresses PTH and stimulates calcitonin it helps put calcium into our bones, preventing osteoporosis, and helps remove it from our soft tissues eliminating some forms of arthritis. A magnesium deficiency will prevent this chemical action from taking place in our bodies, and no amount of calcium can correct it. While magnesium helps our body absorb and retain calcium, too much calcium prevents magnesium from being absorbed. So taking large amounts of calcium without adequate magnesium may either create malabsorption or a magnesium deficiency. Whichever occurs, only magnesium can break the cycle.

    When calcium is elevated in the blood it stimulates the secretion of a hormone called calcitonin and suppresses the secretion of the parathyroid hormone (PTH). These hormones regulate the levels of calcium in our bones and soft tissues and are, therefore, directly related to both osteoporosis and arthritis. PTH draws calcium out of the bones and deposits it in the soft tissues, while calcitonin increases calcium in our bones and keeps it from being absorbed in our soft tissues. Sufficient amounts of magnesium determine this delicate and important balance.

  15. rose says:

    im thinking of getting new chapter’s ‘bone strength take care’, so im not worrying about calcium or D3, plus it has co-factors like K,strontium, silica.

    its quite expensive though!

  16. Sue says:

    I get exercise. Sometimes it is good just to get outside! I eat mostly a plant based diet. I’m also open to suggestions as to what makes a better diet, not just for my bones, but for my whole body!

  17. Leam says:

    Miss the good old days of videos from the Kale Whale…Wednesdays in the kitchen…fitness Fridays…sorry totally off todays topic;)

  18. viola says:

    Also XyliChew gums, buying it at Amazon or Vitacost. It says on the internet:
    Studies in Finland found that xylitol maintained bone density in rats that had their ovaries removed. Without ovaries, oestrogen levels plummeted and so did the bone density in rats that were not given xylitol. However, in the rats that had ovaries removed and were given xylitol, bone density actually increased.

  19. I love all the things you bring to us. Amazing how we have had the wool pulled over our eyes, from the wolfs that hunt and prey on us, what I use and it works stem cell nutrition http://jdimlm,com/miracles. God bless and many thanks.

  20. maca says:

    Is it really necessary to have regular bone scans? Isn’t all that radiation dangerous?

  21. sarah Formento says:

    Hi Kevin, thanks for the post. I’m thinking Eggshells for an affordable supplement for increasing bone density. Dutch researchers report a highly positive effect of eggshell calcium (with added magnesium and Vit D) with measurable increases in bone density. Japanese studies also documented at The Women’s University in Tokyo. Not only did these studies show improved density of mineral content in bone, but also showed no increases in blood calcium levels.

    One whole medium eggshell makes about one teaspoon of powder, which yields about 750-800mgs of elemental Ca. Plus also other micro-elements like magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulfur, silica, zinc etc, In fact there are around 27 elements in total, with the composition very similar to our own bones and teeth.

    Most people require a minimum of 400mgs per day, in addition to other sources of Ca from foods. So you could take 1/2 teaspoon per day with an addition of 400mgs of Mg citrate at the same time. Eggshell should be crushed with the egg membrane as this also contains important nutrients for the joints which help conditions such as arthritis. Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon and mix until it starts to fizz. Acids are needed to start to breakdown shell and help to absorb the Ca. Then leave it at room temp for 6 hours, the longer it is left the less gritty it will be. But do not leave it longer then 12 hours. This can then be ingested with the magnesium citrate followed by water to wash it down.

    This, I believe, could act as an adequate prevention and treatment method for osteoporosis and I would certainly try it my self if I needed to. We have lovely free range chickens that we feed their shells back to them to maintain strong eggshells so it seems logical to me that we could benefit from them too. Also it’s a very cheap method of supplementation and well worth further investigation for anyone interested. Loads of recipes to be found on the internet for variations of the description above.
    Best wishes, Sarah.

  22. Lee Goldsmith says:

    Drink your milk is causing a pandemic. After were off breast milk use almond ,rice hemp etc. I like vanilla flavored and use it in my Frozen banana,pear,frozen blueberry, raspberry,kale,spinach drink every morning before my workout! Get a Vita-mix and see your health change. Lee, San Diego

  23. HJ Shen says:

    Soy and dry legumes are listed as high phytates foods that have negative dietary influence and should be avoided. Yet soy produts and dried legumes are also listed as important plant source of calcium. For the health of my bone should I eat soy products and dried legumes? How about Rice and Oats? I eat oat meal, walnut and sesame seeds in the morning and various rice and soy products through the day. I am male of 85. I have taken PPI drug for nine years and just found I have osteoporosis.

  24. margi says:

    Here is the supplement that I’ve been taking (one a day); what is your opinion:

    Trader Joe’s cal/mag + vit D in a green base:

    vitamin d3 200 IU

    calcium (carbonate, amino acid chelate and citrate-maltate 500 mg

    magnesium 250 mg

    betaine HCI 20 mg

    stinging nettles (powder) 20 mg

    horsetail (whole herb) 20 mg

    spirulina 20 mg

  25. Kathleen says:

    Have you investigated food grade diatomaceous earth? It is made of silica.

  26. Denise says:

    Hi Kevin,

    How is everything out there? Question for u. I’ve been using diatamaceous earth for its silica content which is excellent for the bones, nails, hair, etc. However, there is some info that links silica to cancer, especially for the people who extract it out of the earth. What is your take on diatamaceous earth?


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