Bone development occurs in our bodies daily and calcium is the building block for bones. Calcium is not produced in the body, so we need to obtain it from dietary sources. According to MD Shreyasee Amin, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic “most people still aren’t getting enough calcium in their diets.” Doctors recommend 1,200 – 1,500 mg of calcium daily. Calcium citrate may be easier on the stomach and reduce the risk of kidney stones, but calcium sourced from plant-based whole foods is ideal. See below for our recommended whole food calcium supplement with vitamin K and magnesium.
Equally important are other minerals such as vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium, which our bodies need in order to absorb the calcium. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 800 -1,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for all adults over age 50. See this article and Web MD’s article on Osteoporosis which highlight important supplements for bone health such as calcium, omega-3s, and vitamin D.
Vitamin K, specifically vitamin K2, is thought to be the missing link that allows the body to utilize calcium, as it activates the vascular protein MGP, which inhibits arterial calcification, and it also activates proteins that work to mineralize bones. Vitamin K2 supplementation can reduce the risk for both heart disease and osteoporosis. If vitamin K2 is not present with our calcium supplements, we risk damaging our artery walls and our bones that are not receiving the needed calcium.
Magnesium is just as important as calcium; it is required in order for calcium to be used and it is directly involved in the structural formation of bone. Magnesium keeps calcium dissolved in areas of the body and when there is not enough magnesium, calcium can get pulled away from bones. Magnesium is not readily available from food sources due to nutrient depleted soil and over processing of food. Magnesium citrate may be easier to absorb that magnesium alone. The magnesium RDA is 400mg and it should always be taken with calcium for proper absorption and utilization. Also, unabsorbed magnesium can have a laxative affect. Traditionally doctors have suggested a 2:1 calcium-magnesium ratio but magnesium is less easily absorbed than calcium so this ratio may not be enough for some people. Also, B vitamins are necessary for the utilization of magnesium and lack of sleep can cause magnesium deficiency
Since the FDA does not regulate the vitamin industry, we recommend using extreme care with brand selection. Check our “Where to Buy” section for recommended vitamin manufacturers that are known for top quality and consistency. Supplements may be necessary but also try to aim for as many dietary sources as possible, as food provides combination antioxidants in addition to live enzymes and fiber. Also try to find whole-food supplements, such as the “Raw Calcium” listed below.
U R B A N C L I N I C likes the following bone health supplements:
A high potency bioavailable form of vitamin D.
ProDHA Strawberry Flavor by Nordic Naturals
A high quality Omega 3 with a pleasant aroma.
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