I’ve written recently about two of my top six concerns about the standard approach to bone health. And now, here are two more that emphasize how women are often being misled about how to best protect their bones:
3. Contemporary osteoporosis management treats bone as if it were separate and isolated from the rest of the body
It’s tempting to look at the body the way we look at cars — as a collection of independent parts, each with a specific job. But that’s not what the body is! It’s a set of dynamic, interconnected systems that are constantly changing in response to what goes on around us and inside us.
While most people lose some bone as they age, bones don’t just “wear out” over time, the way a car’s parts do. If bones are weak or rapidly become thin, it’s nearly always because of a larger systemic problem in the body. The most effective approach in this situation is a big-picture perspective that looks at bone health as an indicator of overall health — it’s been shown that older adults who experience a hip fracture have lower baseline health-related quality of life than those who don’t.
But the standard approach is to focus on the mechanics of bone breakdown and interfere with them. Most bone drugs work by targeting the cells that break bone down and stopping them from doing their job. Doing this doesn’t actually solve the problem — it just masks the effects.
Enduring bone health requires rebuilding strength and vitality. That’s why it makes sense to look at the complete body system — circulation, bone, acid-base balance — to find the places where something isn’t working right to cause bone loss, rather than focus in on halting bone loss itself, which is most often an effect of a larger problem.
4. High-dose calcium is still considered the first-line treatment, yet it does not prevent fracture, and may be harmful
Speaking of “larger problems,” let’s take a look at what happens when you try to address fracture risk with calcium supplements. There is tremendous controversy about calcium and bones, but now it’s becoming clear that high-dose calcium supplementation is not the solution.
Multiple studies show that calcium does not decrease fracture risk except in those with a very low calcium intake — and some studies suggest that taking high-dose calcium supplements can lead to an increase in arterial calcification, stroke, kidney stones. In my own research, it’s quite clear that while adequate calcium is needed for healthy bones, using high doses is counterproductive.
It seems wise to obtain the total 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily from diet and supplements as recommended by the National Institute of Health. At the same time, we recommend you also learn about the other key bone nutrients and make sure you obtain adequate doses of all these essential bone builders.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog for my final two reasons the standard approach to bone health doesn’t make sense. And as you’ll see, are far less effective and far more risky than commonly thought!
Randall, AG et al., Deterioration in quality of life following hip fracture; a prospective study osteoporosis international 2000, 11(5);460-6.
Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al., Calcium intake and hip fracture risk in men and women: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007
Bolland MJ, Leung W, Tai V, Bastin S, Gamble GD, Grey A, Reid IR. Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review. BMJ. 2015;351:h4580. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h4580.
Bolland MJ, Grey A, Reid IR. Calcium supplements and cardiovascular risk: 5 years on. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2013 Oct;4(5):199-210. doi: 10.1177/2042098613499790
* Information presented here is not intended to cure, diagnose, prevent or treat any health concerns or condition, nor is it to serve as a substitute professional medical care.