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6 Supplements for Healthier, Stronger Bones

It’s not just about calcium. Learn what supplements to take in addition to calcium—ones that can help slow the rate of bone loss, increase bone density, and prevent osteoporosis. From What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know: The Alternative Treatments That May Change Your Life—and the Prescriptions That Could Harm You by Michael T. Murray, N.D.

Calcium supplementation alone has shown little benefit in treating or preventing osteoporosis. But calcium supplementation combined with vitamin D can slow the rate of bone loss by as much as 30 percent, and it offers significant protection against hip fractures—cutting the risk by as much as half. The recommended dosage for calcium is 1,000 to 1,500 mg daily.

Vitamin D supplementation is associated with increased bone density, and studies that combined vitamin D with calcium produced better results than those that used either nutrient alone. Vitamin D supplementation is especially helpful for elderly people who don’t get sufficient exposure to sunlight (which stimulates the body’s manufacture of vitamin D). The recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 1,000 to 2,000 international units (IU).

Magnesium supplementation is thought by some experts to be as important as calcium supplementation in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Women with osteoporosis have more indicators of magnesium deficiency, such as lower bone magnesium content, than people without osteoporosis. The recommended dosage is 250 to 400 mg daily.

Vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are important in the conversion of the amino acid methionine to cysteine. If a person is deficient in these vitamins, there will be an increase in the level of homocysteine. Homocysteine can act to damage cell structures and has been implicated in a variety of conditions, including atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Combinations of these vitamins will produce better results than any one of them alone. The recommended daily dosages are 15 to 25 mg for vitamin B6, and 800 micrograms (?g) for folic acid and vitamin B12.

Calcium is not the only nutrient that is important for bone formation. Many trace minerals such as copper, manganese, zinc, and boron are also important. A deficiency in trace minerals can also predispose someone to osteoporosis. For example, boron is a trace mineral that has gained attention as a protective factor against osteoporosis. It appears that boron is required to activate certain hormones, including estrogen and vitamin D. In order to guarantee adequate boron levels, supplementing the diet with a daily dose of 3 to 5 mg of boron is recommended.

Although vitamin K1 from green leafy vegetables is important to healthy bone, vitamin K2 supplements may have an even more powerful influence in women with existing osteoporosis. A number of clinical trials in Japan have shown that vitamin K2 at high dosages (45 mg daily) can actually increase bone density and reduce hip fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis when used in conjunction with calcium and vitamin D. In fact, the results from one study of 200 elderly female patients receiving either a placebo or 45 mg of vitamin K2 (menatetrenone), 1,000 IU of vitamin D, and 600 mg of calcium showed that bone density increased by 2.3 percent in the treated group and decreased by 5.2 percent in the placebo group. Twenty-two patients in the untreated group sustained fractures (15 had hip fractures), but there were only three fractures (two hip fractures) in the group getting the vitamin therapy.


Read Chapter 1 of What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know

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