In my previous two blogs, I’ve given you 4 important reasons why I don’t believe standard osteoporosis treatment is effective. In this final blog of the series, I want to emphasize that there is no magic bullet for optimal bone health – despite what you may have heard about calcium or bone drugs. Here’s why:
5. The calcium-centered focus has distracted us from the fact that at least 20 nutrients are essential for bone health
I’ve pointed out that calcium doesn’t reduce fracture risk and excessive calcium intake holds increased risk of cardiac problems. But if calcium isn’t the “magic bullet” for bones, what is? Well for one thing, adequate vitamin D levels are essential, and a lot of doctors are finally realizing how important vitamin D is for bone health.
Yet too little attention is still paid to other essential bone nutrients — especially vitamin K, which makes a major contribution to bone health and supports many other systems as well, but also zinc, magnesium copper, boron, folate, manganese and vitamin C.
6. Bone drugs are far less effective and far more risky than commonly thought
Here’s where it really becomes frustrating. Our health system pushes high-dose calcium (which doesn’t work) as the solution to low bone density (which is not necessarily the problem). Then when there’s no improvement in bone density from overloading the body with calcium, the typical next step is to prescribe a bone drug.
I’ve always maintained that such medications should be used only as a last resort, for very severe cases where drastic measures are needed — for instance, a person experiencing low-impact fractures or excessive, uncontrollable bone loss. This is not the situation for most people who have relatively low bone density .
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the results of bone drug therapy are often very disappointing. Even worse, the evidence suggests no benefit from bisphosphonate bone drugs on real-world hip fracture incidence. Nor do these drugs benefit people 80 years old and older — which is, of course, the group most likely to fracture a hip!
What it all boils down to is this: If we’re to really help people to live long, healthy lives free from the fear of bone fractures, we don’t need more bone drugs. Instead, we need to change our approach by:
- Carefully assessing each individual case to identify whether excessive bone loss or weakness exists;
- Detecting and correcting both obvious and hidden causes of excessive bone weakening;
- Broad-spectrum, whole-body support with nutrition, exercise, neuroendocrine and hormonal balance, stress reduction, and resilience enhancement.
Such an approach would limit bone drugs to the few specific situations where obvious bone weakness cannot be offset by natural means and requires heavy-duty intervention.
Missed the previous blogs? Read more.
* 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.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.