Confused About Which Supplements to Take for Your Bones? Consider This….

Dr. Janet Zand
January 20, 2019


There never seems to be any shortage of confusing information going around the Internet – especially in regard to supplements. This is particularly true when it comes to nutrients and treating osteoporosis. What’s interesting is that mainstream medicine loves calcium, but ignores all the other critical nutrients.

You see, taking excess calcium supplements is the last thing you need to do for your bones – and other nutrients, which are ignored or under attack, are exactly what you need to take. Let me explain.

Doctors tell us to take 1,200-1,500 mg of calcium a day. I disagree. Studies show this is much more than you need. The issue is calcium absorption, not quantity. Most diets contain plenty of calcium,

The results of a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research may surprise you. It looked at around 10,000 people of all ages and concluded that women don’t need more than 566 mg of dietary calcium a day (626 mg for men).

That’s right. These researchers found no reason to take high amounts of calcium in supplements. In fact, they found that taking high doses of calcium leads to calcium deposits and can lead to arthritis and heart disease.

So, instead of depending on calcium to keep your bones strong and healthy, there’s a better way. Focus on the nutrients conventional medicine seems to avoid and the media often attacks.

Bone Protection Starts With Strontium

Strontium is perhaps the singular unique supplement available to conserve bones. It effectively prevents and repairs osteoporosis without the side effects of bisphosphonates. And it helps form bones that are not only dense, but are stronger and more flexible than Fosamax and other bisphosphonates can produce.

When strontium first came on the scene, most of the studies used a patented form – strontium ranelate. Strontium is the active ingredient; ranelate, a salt of ranelic acid, is the carrier. When you put them together, they form strontium ranelate, which is a patented drug. Other forms of strontium are not drugs and are not patented.

The studies using strontium ranelate found that it was effective in significantly decreasing the risk of fractures. But there wasn’t much money to be made with strontium ranelate since it was so similar to other non-patented forms of strontium. Follow-up bone density tests indicate that all forms of strontium are protective against bone loss. In fact, one of these forms – strontium citrate – is even better than ranelate.

However, back in 2010, there were allegations that strontium may cause blood clots or allergic reactions in some women. This information is still making the rounds on the Internet. So you may see it periodically.

But a careful reading of an independent review of the data that the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published was unable to find an association between strontium and either blood clots or allergic hypersensitivity.

In fact, the incidents of blood clots in women who took strontium ranelate were the same as in postmenopausal women who didn’t take it!

So why did this information even make the news. Many researchers believe the side effects from strontium actually come from its carrier, ranelate, rather than from either the strontium itself or another one of its carriers, like citrate. The bottom line is there’s no compelling evidence to suggest that strontium citrate is anything other than beneficial.

Reminders About Strontium

The strontium used in bone formulas is not strontium-90, the toxic radioactive isotope that nuclear fission produces. Strontium-90 doesn’t occur naturally. Rather, it comes from testing nuclear weapons and from escaping from nuclear power plants. It is dangerous and can contribute to cancer, especially in children.

Nonradioactive strontium is nontoxic, even in large doses. In fact, the nontoxic form of strontium can eliminate radioactive strontium-90 from the body over time.

The optimum dose of strontium to protect against osteoporosis appears to be 680 mg/day. But researchers have found lower doses are clinically effective. The optimal daily dose contains 500 mg of strontium citrate per day. Adding more strontium would not only unnecessarily add possible digestive issues, but also increase the cost of a formula and necessitate taking more tablets every day.

Strontium impairs the absorption of calcium. So while you need both minerals, you need to take them at different times. My suggestion is to take strontium on an empty stomach morning and night, and take your multi with calcium, or calcium-rich foods, with meals. This is the simplest and most effective method to assure maximum absorption of both minerals. This is the method that thousands of women have used successfully.

If your diet is healthful, 500 mg each of supplemental calcium should be sufficient to meet the needs of your bones. Remember, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli rabe, not only dairy products, are also high in calcium, as are  almonds, canned salmon, sardines and tofu.

What to Take With Strontium

If you want to make strontium work even better, take it along with vitamin D. In a study published in 2015, researchers wanted to find out if taking vitamin D with strontium would maximize the effect of the bone nutrient. Vitamin D is vital for bone health. And these researchers wanted to see if it could boost strontium's bone-building ability.

The researchers followed 108 women who were taking strontium to fight osteoporosis. They gave the women 25,000 IU of vitamin D every other week along with the strontium. Then they measured their bone mineral density after 18 months.

The researchers found that the vitamin D did indeed boost strontium’s bone-building qualities and helped the women experience “a significant bone mineral density gain.”

The researchers did use strontium ranelate. So I suspect strontium citrate would have at least as good, if not better, results. Both strontium and the citrate are naturally occurring molecules, unlike the synthetic ranelate form.

It’s also important to note that you may need to take more vitamin D than they used in this study. While 25,000 IU of vitamin D every two weeks is more than most people take, it still may not be enough to reach optimum levels. It could take as much as 5,000 IU daily.

Vitamin D Under Attack

A study released earlier this month found that vitamin D doesn’t help improve the bone mineral density of people over the age of 70. There could be a couple of reasons for this finding. One, their doses were too small. The highest dose they used was 48,000 IU monthly. That’s only about 1,600 IU daily, which isn’t enough to have a significant effect, especially in an individual over 70 whose nutrient absorption is not optimal. (Individuals over 70, especially in the winter months, would do well with continuing their vitamin D supplementation.)

Second, vitamin D isn’t effective unless you have enough magnesium in your body. As you may know, magnesium is vital for your bones. Part of that reason might be its interplay with vitamin D. You see, researchers recently found that the body can't metabolize vitamin D without sufficient magnesium levels.

So it's vital you take plenty of magnesium every day. It will protect your vascular system and the rest of your body – and you'll get all the benefits of the vitamin D you're taking. Magnesium is one of the biggest deficiencies we face today. Almost everyone is deficient. Many are severely deficient. That means most people need to be taking magnesium – usually up to 800-1,000 mg daily. 

What to Take If You Need More Protection?

If you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis there are other nutrients to consider. One that you may not have heard of before is calcitonin-salmon nasal spray. Calcitonin is a hormone found in salmon that slows down the normal breakdown of bone and increases bone density. It’s a prescription item covered by Medicare. You spray it in alternating nostrils every day. The combination of strontium and calcitonin is extremely effective. You’ll have to ask your doctor for a prescription and your local pharmacy should carry it – or they can order it quickly.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to fight osteoporosis without taking excess calcium supplements. It’s best to get most all of your calcium from food. If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough from your diet, find a high-quality multivitamin that contains 500 mg of calcium. That amount will provide you with the protection you want without causing your arteries to calcify.

And finally, make sure you’re getting some exercise. Exercise is THE secret sauce for keeping your bones strong. Weight and resistance training is the best form of exercise for your bones, as it stresses them better than cardiovascular exercises do.

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