Can Strontium Build Bone?

Strontium: bone drug or nutrient?

Quite frequently women write me to ask: What is strontium and why do you include it in your Better Bones Builder?

Well, there’s a short answer and a long answer to that question. Here’s the short answer: Strontium is an element very much like calcium and naturally present in our food and water. If you are eating a typical diet, you might getting anywhere from 1 mg to more than 10 mg of strontium per day. The reason it’s in the Better Bones Builder is that the elemental form (that is to say, the non-radioactive version found in nature) has been shown to promote formation of healthy teeth and bones. So it makes sense to include dietary doses of strontium in comprehensive bone-building formulas such as our Better Bones Builder because low-dose strontium is a companion nutrient that works with calcium and other minerals to promote bone health.

Low-dose vs. high-dose strontium

Now let’s get to the long answer. Where confusion sets in is when people hear about strontium being used by itself to build bone. What most people don’t realize when they read about strontium as “the solution” for bone health is that such talk isn’t referring to dietary doses of elemental strontium — rather, it’s referring to the extremely high-dose strontium that has been developed and patented as a drug therapy for osteoporosis in Europe. This drug, known as Protelos®, contains 680 mg of elemental strontium and two grams of strontium ranelate, a synthetic salt that combines strontium with ranelic acid.

Risks of high-dose strontium

Elemental strontium is different

Elemental strontium is a natural part of the earth’s crust and is very different from “strontium 90” which is a hazardous radioactive nuclear fallout product from aboveground nuclear testing. All strontium used in bone-building health products is elemental strontium.

One goal of Protelos® is for a small number of strontium atoms to displace calcium atoms in bone. For this effect it is necessary that the strontium drug be taken at least two hours apart from calcium. This separation of calcium from strontium is not necessary for low-dose strontium (22 mg) like that in my bone-building formula, which is used as a nutrient to aid the development of healthy bones. Unlike dietary strontium, the strontium drug has been found to have various adverse side effects including nausea, diarrhea, and, more rarely, memory problems, serious skin rashes, and venous clots. For the first 10 years of its use as an osteoporosis drug, however, more serious drug-induced problems were detected as the strontium drug (Protelos®) was found to substantially increase the risk of heart problems, including heart attack. In 2014, the European Medicines Agency Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) concluded that the risks of the strontium drug outweighed the benefits and they recommended suspension of its use.

Specifically, PRAC reported in 2014 that:

  • For every 1,000 patient years of use of the strontium drug (Protelos®) there were 4 more cases of serious heart problems and 4 more cases of blood clots or blockages of blood vessels than there were with the placebo.
  • As for benefits, the strontium drug had only a modest effect in osteoporosis, preventing 5 non-spinal fractures, 15 new spinal fractures, and 0.4 hip fractures for every 1,000 patient years.

Later in 2014 this same European committee revised its recommendation allowing the strontium drug to be used by patients who could not be treated for osteoporosis by other bone medicines, but requiring that patients using the strontium drug be carefully monitored. In addition, those with a history of heart or circulatory problems were not allowed to use this medication.

The high-dose strontium drug is not available in the U.S.

Keeping strontium in perspective

To avoid any confusion, let me be perfectly clear: In the U.S. the strontium drug Protelos® is not approved for use as a bone drug, and it is not available here for purchase. In the U.S. and Canada, however, one can purchase equally high dose natural forms of strontium as strontium citrate or strontium carbonate and some companies promote bone support formulas with 680 mg elemental strontium (the same strontium dose as in the Protelos® strontium drug formula). Keep in mind that this high-dose strontium, be it natural strontium as sold in the U.S. or synthetic as in Protelos®, is best viewed as a “bone drug,” and, as with all bone drugs, it should be used with great caution. While the synthetic strontium drug (Protelos®) has been shown to carry serious adverse effects, to date there have been no studies on the safety or efficacy of high-dose (680 mg) natural strontium as sold here in the U.S.

Here at the Center for Better Bones our mission is to explore the full human potential for natural, life-long bone health. We strive to work with nature and in accord with nature when at all possible. The Better Bones, Better Body program includes small low doses of supplemental strontium, while not generally recommending the use of high-dose strontium (680 mg) or conventional bone drugs.

I hope this helps clear up the confusion when it comes to strontium. I will be writing more on strontium in the future, so stay tuned!

Best wishes to everyone.

 

References: 

2014 European Medicines Agency. PRAC recommends suspending use of Protelos/Osseor (strontium ranelate),Jan 10. EMA/10206/2014  http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/news_and_events/news/2014/01/news_detail_002005.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058004d5c1

2014 European Medicines Agency. PRAC. Protelos/Osseor to remain available but with further restrictions. April 14, EMA 235924/2014 http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/news_and_events/news/2014/02/news_detail_002031.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058004d5c1

 

Strontium Ranelate

Strontium Ranelate

 

5 recipes to use turmeric for Better Bones 

I love cooking with turmeric because it adds a brilliant yellow color and pungent taste to so many foods. Plus, its active compound, curcumin, has been extensively studied and displays an impressive list of benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that are important to bone health.

Used in foods, turmeric can deliver a significant amount of curcumin. You may be most familiar with turmeric as a key ingredient in curry powder and other savory dishes. I like to use it whenever I can. Here are some of my favorite recipes using turmeric:

1. Turmeric-spiked ghee

Turmeric is fat-soluble, and in traditional Indian cuisine, it’s generally cooked in ghee (clarified butter) or oil. Heat 1 Tbsp of ghee, add ½ tsp of turmeric powder and lightly sauté it for a few minutes. Store your “turmeric ghee” refrigerated in a jar and use it as a colorful and healthy oil for sautéing vegetables, nuts and seeds.

2. Beautiful yellow rice

Use the same turmeric ghee as nutritious condiment when cooking rice. Put 1 Tbsp turmeric ghee in a saucepan, along with ¼ tsp cumin seeds and a pinch of black pepper and salt. Sauté this spice mix a few moments before adding to the rice cooking water.

3. Turmeric-ginger tea

Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Put in ½ to 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp ginger powder, 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, and a pinch of pepper. Simmer this for 15 minutes, then let settle, strain, and drink hot or cold with sweetener if desired.

4. Golden milk 

In a saucepan, mix and bring to a light boil the following:

  • 2 cups of any “milk” you choose (dairy, soy, rice, almond, or ½ almond and ½ coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp of ground turmeric (feel free to start with less)
  • 1 tsp powdered or fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp sweetener (maple syrup, sucanat, etc.)
  • Pinch of black pepper

5. Chicken curry salad

  • Dress shredded chicken or chopped tofu with a mixture of turmeric, curry powder, cumin, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
  • Add chopped celery or red pepper, raisins, chopped walnuts, minced garlic and a pinch of cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste.
  • Drizzle with a bit of lemon or lime juice, and serve over salad greens, rice, or use as a colorful sandwich filling.

More ways to use turmeric powder:

  • In deviled eggs or chicken soup
  • As a natural coloring for bland foods such as mashed potatoes, rice or quinoa
  • Sprinkled on avocado or salads

How much turmeric powder to aim for?

To gain health benefits from the spice, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 1 to 3 grams of dried, powdered turmeric root per day, which is about 1/2 to 11/2 tsp. A small amount of black pepper enhances the bioavailability of curcumin, as does boiling.

With so many ways to use turmeric, no wonder it is one of the most widely used culinary spices worldwide! If you would like to learn more about the benefits of turmeric and curcumin, see my recent blog “New study suggests curcumin helps build bone.”

Turmeric Recipes

Turmeric Recipes

Curcumin build bones

New study suggests curcumin helps build bone

A recent study shows that use of a new bioavailable derivative of curcumin significantly increased the bone density in the heel, upper jaw and little finger bones in older men. While the study looks at men — more about that below — I think it has some very interesting implications for us all!

What did the study look at?

  • The trial population consisted of 57 older Italian men — all between 68 and 73 years old — described by study authors as “reasonably fit” with a BMI below 25.
  • All study participants began a standardized bone health management program that included regular exercise, nutritional evaluation and dietary modifications, with particular focus on vitamin D, vitamin C and calcium.
  • 29 of them spent 24 weeks supplementing their program with the curcumin supplement, while the remaining 28 did not.

Now, it’s important to note that this is a small, preliminary study, and some of the choices the researchers made limit its usefulness. Men have fewer risk factors for bone loss than women in the same age group, and it’s unclear how “low” the subjects’ bone mass was (relative to their overall body size) to begin with. Plus, given that the individuals were “reasonably fit” Italian seniors (who likely had eaten an alkalizing Mediterranean diet most of their lives), we can infer that their initial risk of osteoporosis and fracture wasn’t high.

The powerful effects of curcumin

But as a starting point, it has some interesting implications. Curcumin has long been known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And there’s evidence suggesting it inhibits an important biochemical mechanism for osteoclast development know as the RANKL pathway (Bharti et al., 2004) — which is the same process targeted by the powerful bone drug denosumab (Prolia; Hanley et al., 2012).

That’s why it makes sense that a bioavailable curcumin could have such powerful effects to build bone when combined with common-sense healthy diet and exercise habits.

Obviously, the researchers have much more work to do, but I am encouraged to see scientists turning to nature to find the best ways to build bone health!

 

References

Bharti AC, Takada Y, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) inhibits receptor activator of NF-kappa B ligand-induced NF-kappa B activation in osteoclast precursors and suppresses osteoclastogenesis. J Immunol. 2004;172(10):5940–5947.

Hanley DA, Adachi JD, Bell A, Brown V. Denosumab: mechanism of action and clinical outcomes. Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Dec;66(12):1139–1146.

Riva A, Togni S, Giacomelli L, et al. Effects of a cucurmin-based supplementation in asymptomatic subjects with low bone density: A preliminary 24-week supplement study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Stud. 2017;21:1684–1689.

yogurt for osteoporosis

New study shows yogurt reduces osteoporosis risk

I know sometimes it’s not easy to change lifetime eating habits! But again and again, studies document the bone-building benefits of consuming nutrient-dense foods — such as yogurt.

In a large Irish study, one serving of yogurt daily was linked to a substantially lower risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

The researchers measured total hip, femoral neck, and vertebral BMD and bone biochemical markers in 1,057 women and 763 men and conducted separate measurements of physical function in 2,624 women and 1,290 men. Then they accounted for a wide range of factors that affect the risk of osteoporosis: body weight, kidney function, physical activity, servings of milk or cheese, and calcium or vitamin D supplements, smoking, alcohol use, and so forth.

Two things make this study especially interesting

First, the bone-strengthening effect of yogurt was not seen in people who drank milk or ate cheese — it was the yogurt, specifically, not any dairy product. This supports the suggestion that yogurt’s bone-building punch lies in its contribution to our all-important gut microbiome.

Second, the study included over 4,000 adults in the over-60 age group and looked at both physiological measures of bone quality as well as physical function measures like the ability to complete common movements (standing up). This strategy provides a more holistic portrait not just the bones, but the body as a whole. I’m always in favor of that!

It’s not the first time we’ve seen the suggestion that probiotics support bone health. Another study from Sweden reported fermented dairy was associated with a lower risk of fracture, and the US Framingham Offspring Study found a similar association between yogurt consumption and hip bone density. I’ve noted before that probiotics can strongly inhibit inflammation and likely enhance bone strength for this reason.

What does this study mean?

While the study found a strong link between yogurt and bone health, that doesn’t mean eating multiple servings of yogurt daily will eliminate your risk osteopenia or osteoporosis. But it does support the idea that nutrient-dense foods, like a low-sugar, high probiotic yogurt, benefit bone by delivering calcium, protein, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients.

All yogurts are not created equal

yogurt-with-berriesThe most successful studies were done with European yogurts, which are high in probiotic organisms and low in sugar. If you want to see what yogurt can do for you, choose brands high in beneficial bacteria with no added sugar or additives (which unfortunately can counteract the benefits). Best bet: start with plain, organic, whole-milk yogurt and add fresh berries and alkalizing nuts and seeds for a creamy bone-supporting treat. Or whip up a yogurt smoothie! The possibilities are endless.

No dairy? No worries! If you avoid dairy remember there any many wholesome non-dairy fermented foods such as sauerkraut, olives, kimchi, tempeh, miso and true (fermented) pickles of all sorts.

 

 

 

References:

Laird E., Molloy A.M., McNulty H. et al. Greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults. Osteoporos Int (2017). doi:10.1007/s00198-017-4049-5

Michaelsson K., Wolk A., Langenskiöld S., et al. Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. BMJ 2014;349:g6015.

Martín Jiménez JA, Consuegra Moya B, Martín Jiménez MT. [Nutritional factors in preventing osteoporosis]. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Jul 18;32 Suppl 1:49-55. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.sup1.9480.

2017 Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen

Check the 2017 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen from the Environmental Working Group

With farmer’s market season upon us, it’s a good time to remember to be careful when choosing your fresh fruits and vegetables. I recommend seeking out organic produce for one simple reason: chemical pesticides and herbicides are toxic.  While the amounts you eat may be tiny, their effects are likely cumulative. Science is just now starting to find ways to identify how trace effects change the body (Curl et al., 2015). But I say it’s better to limit exposures to harmful chemicals, no matter how tiny, than play Russian roulette and hope for the best.

But I’m realistic!  I know buying all-organic may be out of reach of many people’s budgets. So it pays to be savvy about what you buy from organic farmers, and what you get from conventional sources.

Several years ago, I wrote about the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their popular list they call the Dirty Dozen, which identifies foods found to be high in pesticides even after washing or peeling.

2017 Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

2017 Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

 

The Dirty Dozen list keeps changing

I like to remind you about the Dirty Dozen because it’s not something to check once in a while — you should review it every year, because the rankings change on a regular basis.

For instance, apples had the highest level of chemical residues in 2012 — and stayed at the top of the list for three more years until strawberries took over. This year, strawberries are still the #1 most contaminated food, but apples have slipped to #4. Meanwhile, spinach — ranked #8 in 2016 — is now #2 on the list.

And there are new entries as well: pears, ranked at #22 in 2015, have climbed all the way up to #6 as of 2017 because EWG found that the amount of residue and the number of pesticides and fungicides more than doubled in those two years.

In our global economy, your fruits and vegetables could come from down the road or the other side of the planet. You can’t assume your grocery store is sourcing its produce from the same places all the time, or even that the farms’ pest-control practices are the same from year to year.  If you have the ability grow your own fruits and vegetables, perhaps the EWG Dirty Dozen list can offer guidance on what to plant — but if you can’t, let it help you determine which foods you should select from organically grown offerings in your supermarket.

By the way, another annual list from the EWG is the Clean 15 list describing the 15 plant foods least likely to contain even trace amounts of chemicals. These are foods you can buy from conventional growers without much concern — though you should still make sure they’re fresh and wash them before eating!

 

References

Environmental Working Group. EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. Available at https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php (Accessed June 6, 2017).

Curl C.L., Beresford S.A.A., Fenske R.A., et al. Estimating pesticide exposure from dietary intake and organic food choices: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Environmental Health Perspectives 2015;123(5):475-483. doi:10.1289/ehp.1408197.

 

How To Start An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet for healthy bones

Inflammation is one of Mother Nature’s powerful double-edged swords: We need it to clear way damaged tissue, but excessive and uncontrolled inflammation brings unwanted destruction.  Ongoing inflammation lies at the root of osteopenia and osteoporosis.  It’s been known for years that individuals with higher inflammatory markers (like C-reactive protein) exhibit lower bone density and fracture more often.

New research looking at anti-inflammatory dietary components has found the adage that “food is medicine” is true when it comes to protecting bone from the ravages of inflammation. Ohio State University researchers recently reviewed data from over 160,000 women, mean age of 63, collected over 6 years. They found that:

  • Women whose diet ranked highest in anti-inflammatory food components lost significantly less bone density as they aged than those with high intake of pro-inflammatory foods  (even if they had lower bone density at baseline).
  • Higher intake of anti-inflammatory food groups was associated with an almost 50% reduction in hip fracture risk among the subset of Caucasian women younger than 63.

How do I change my eating habits to get these benefits?

I know what your next question will be: How do I change my eating habits to get these benefits? The simplest way to start is to look for anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet (see below), and think about ways to eliminate pro-inflammatory foods (below) from your regular diet. My Alkaline for Life diet is helpful in this regard, since most of the foods it recommends are anti-inflammatory.

 

 

 

5 questions about calcium supplements

Answers to your top 5 questions about calcium supplements

Calcium is the nutrient people think about when it comes to bone strength. Every day I’m asked, “How much calcium should I take, and when? What’s the best form? Can I take too much?”

Perhaps you have one of these questions yourself, so here’s a brief “Calcium 101”:

#1. How much calcium should I take?

The current recommended calcium intake for adult women is 1200 mg a day between diet and supplements.You may need more calcium if you don’t absorb it as well as most people. Nocturnal leg cramps, for instance, may indicate a higher need for calcium.

#2. When should I take my calcium supplement?

It’s best to take calcium supplements with food so they absorb better — ideally, spread them out over two meals for best absorption. Blood calcium can dip at night, so it helps to take some of your supplemental calcium with dinner.

#3. What is the best form of calcium?

I suggest a mix of different calcium salts, including calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium ascorbate, calcium glycinate and calcium malate. All of these forms of calcium are well absorbed and highly alkalizing, which is a top priority here at the Center For Better Bones.

#4. Why is the calcium in Better Bones Basics and Better Bones Builder so good for bone?

In my products, I use a mix of alkalizing calcium forms, including calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium ascorbate. These forms are concentrated – so that you can get the optimal dose with the fewest pills possible. Calcium carbonate is the same form of calcium as found in marine algae calcium pills and it is highly absorbable if taken with food

But what makes the calcium even more highly effective in Better Bones Basics and Better Bones Builder is that it paired with other nutrients it needs to do its job — magnesium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D. For example, calcium absorption depends on vitamin D. A person with inadequate vitamin D absorbs 65% less calcium than someone who has adequate vitamin D (or 32ng/ml).

#5. Can you take too much calcium?

Yes. Although we need calcium in relatively large quantities, you can take too much. For those looking to maximize bone health generally, supplement with calcium in the range of 600 and 700 mg/day. I don’t recommend using over 1000 mg supplemental calcium, as doctors tended to prescribe in the past.

 

References:

NIH. Office of Dietary Supplements. Calcium, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/. Nov. 17, 2016.

Heaney, RP et al. Absorption of calcium as the carbonate and citrate salts, with some observations on method. Osteoporosis International, 1999;9(1):19-23.

blackstrap molasses recipes

Recipes to help you get the benefits of blackstrap molasses

Dr. Bown with molasses cookiesI fondly recall my grandmother’s homemade blackstrap molasses cookies and her molasses sweetened, old fashioned, baked beans. If you feel like indulging your sweet tooth, you can skip the refined sugar, sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup and fructose.

A better way to add a little sweetness — along with the big nutrient benefits — is to use blackstrap molasses. See some of my favorite ideas below.

What is blackstrap molasses?

Blackstrap molasses is the thick dark syrup — full of alkalizing, bone-building trace minerals — left after the third boiling in the sugar refining process.

Nutrients in blackstrap molasses

Blackstrap molasses is rich in many key bone nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and even the hard to get trace mineral manganese. Some reports suggest you only need two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses to get 18% of the recommended daily value for manganese.

Manganese plays a special role in bone cartilage and bone collagen formation and is required for bone mineralization. In one study, women with osteoporosis were found to have ¼ the manganese levels of the women who didn’t have osteoporosis.

Compare the nutrients in blackstrap molasses to table sugar

Nutrient Content per 1 Tablespoon
NutrientBlackstrap Molasses (organic unsulfured)Table Sugar
Calcium200 mg0
Magnesium100 mg0
Potassium450 mg0
Iron2.70-0.73 mg0
Sodium30 mg0
Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, ChromiumTrace amountsnone

Table Reference: U.S. Dept of Agriculture, USDA Branded Food Products Database, Jan. 2017

Molasses spice cookie recipe

From The Amazing Acid Alkaline Cookbook by Bonnie Ross

(Makes 24 cookies)

Ingredients

3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed

2 C light spelt flour (or gluten-free baking mix)

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp sea salt

2/3 C Sucanat sugar

½ C clarified butter

¼ C blackstrap molasses (originally regular molasses in the recipe)

Sucanat sugar for coating

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat two 9-x-13-inch baking sheets with clarified butter, or line them with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the water and flaxseed. Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flaxseed mixture, sugar, butter, and the blackstrap molasses. Mix well with a spoon until blended.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well with a spoon until blended.
  6. Lightly coat a plate or pan with sugar. Using your hands, shape the dough into 1½-inch balls and roll each ball over the sugared surface. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the balls to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are set but the middle of the cookie is still soft. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

More ways to use blackstrap molasses

Molasses apple cider tea

This warming drink involves two of my alkalizing favorites.  I simply put 1 Tbsp of blackstrap molasses and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water and enjoy.

Wholesome alternative sweetener

As a simple sweetener, I like the flavor of blackstrap in yogurt, oatmeal, homemade granola, and even tea.  It also works to replace some of the honey or maple syrup in your recipes with blackstrap.

Barbecue sauce or veggie glaze

If you prepare homemade barbecue sauce try mixing a bit of blackstrap to secret BBQ sauce. Or, if you like to spice up things by glazing your root crops, try mixing a bit of blackstrap with butter for a flavorful glaze.

Source for nutrition information: Whole Foods

Are you getting enough chromium?

Chromium: A hidden nutrient for bone and energy metabolism

 

Chromium is an old friend of mine! I first used it to help women tame their sweet tooth in my days as a nutritionist. And now, chromium is one of the key essential nutrients I recommend to women for their bone health.  I’m also excited to see that researchers are learning more about how chromium plays a role in the truly amazing way the skeleton helps regulate energy metabolism.

Key benefits of chromium

  • Preserves bone mineral by reducing the loss of calcium in the urine, promoting collagen production, increasing adrenal DHEA levels and improving insulin regulation.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Reduces craving for sweets
  • Helps the skeleton regulate energy metabolism — the complicated process includes osteocalcin (a hormone secreted by the bone-building osteoblast cells) acting on the pancreas to enhance insulin production and in peripheral tissues to increase glucose utilization, as well as to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce visceral fat (like abdominal fat accumulation).

Are you getting enough chromium?

Unfortunately, probably not.

That’s because not many foods have chromium.  Plus, chromium is a nutrient easily lost in food processing and soil mineral depletion.  But — as you’ll see below in the list of chromium-rich foods — there is some good news.  Red wine can have a fair amount of chromium!

How to get enough chromium (red wine is on the list!)

Most everyone in this country could benefit from chromium supplementation.  While there is no RDA established for chromium, I recommend 200 mcg per day. Here’s a great list of foods with chromium from the National Institutes of Health. As you’ll see, getting a daily dose of 200 mcg from food alone is difficult!

What foods have chromium?

FoodChromium (mcg)
Broccoli, ½ cup11
Grape juice, 1 cup8
English muffin, whole wheat, 14
Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup3
Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon3
Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon2
Beef cubes, 3 ounces2
Orange juice, 1 cup2
Turkey breast, 3 ounces2
Whole wheat bread, 2 slices2
Red wine, 5 ounces1–13
Apple, unpeeled, 1 medium1
Banana, 1 medium1
Green beans, ½ cup1

Source: National Institutes of Health

Adding to the difficulty of getting enough chromium is that our levels also tend to diminish with age. Stress, a high sugar diet, an infection or vigorous exercise can diminish chromium levels in the blood.

You can help your body absorb chromium by getting enough with vitamin C and the B vitamins through foods and/or supplementation.

To get the most beneficial effects of chromium, I suggest you supplement with a chelated form of chromium such as chromium picolinate or chromium polynicotinate. My Better Bones Builder includes 300 mcg of chromium (as chromium polynicotinate) so you can be sure you’re getting the optimal amount of chromium.

 

References:

Clemens, TL, and G Karsenty. 2011. The osteoblast: An insulin target cell controlling glucose homeostasis. J Bone Miner Res 26(4):677–680.

Evans, GW et al. 1995. Chromium picolinate decreases calcium excretion and increases dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 9:A449.

National Institutes of Health. 2013. Chromium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Chromium-HealthProfessional/

 

 

Benefits of Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2: A Valentine’s message for heart and bones

 

This Valentine’s Day, when you’re thinking about what’s closest to your heart, keep your bones in mind too!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you already know how important vitamin K is to bone health — but you may not realize its importance in cardiovascular health. It’s a key nutrient in blood coagulation, of course, but that’s far from its only role.

Why your heart and bones love vitamin K

Vitamin K has a special relationship to both heart and bone health through its contribution to the metabolism of calcium. Here’s a closer look why:

  • Vitamin K has the unique capacity to activate proteins that help to keep calcium in the bone and out of the arteries (which prevents arterial calcification), and to regulate inflammation.
  • Its importance is underscored by several studies that show that people who took a form of vitamin K2 called menaquinone (MK-7) had a reduced risk of coronary calcification and heart disease.
  • Even in patients with kidney disease, who are at risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease, small doses of MK-7 and vitamin D helped slow the progression of the disease.

Source: NattoPharma, “Calcium Perfected”, n.d.

Researchers have known there’s a link between osteoporosis and heart disease for a while now. It’s so significant that some researchers think that if patients are diagnosed with heart disease, they should be evaluated for osteoporosis — and vice versa.

Top foods for getting vitamin K

You can eat good quality, lean meats, organic eggs, and hard or soft cheeses knowing they can supply you with some of the vitamin K2 your bones need. But before you rush out to buy kale and leafy greens, you should know that vitamin K2, unlike vitamin K1, is not found in vegetables.

Natto is fermented soybeans and an excellent source of the MK-7 form of vitamin K2. Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and seaweed are also pretty good sources of vitamin K2. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan way of eating, consider supplementing with vitamin K2 to ensure that your heart and bones have this important nutrient.

 

References:
Beulens JW, Bots ML,  et al. High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Atherosclerosis. 2009 Apr;203(2):489–493.

Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C,  et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: The Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004;134(11):3100-3105.

Harshman SG, and Shea MK. The role of vitamin K in chronic aging diseases: Inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and osteoarthritis. Curr Nutr Rep. 2016;5(2):90-98.

Kurnatowska I, Grzelak P, et al. Effect of vitamin K2 on progression of atherosclerosis and vascular calcification in nondialyzed patients with chronic kidney disease stages 3-5. Pol Arch Med Wewn. 2015;125(9):631-640.

Shea MK, and Holden RM. Vitamin K status and vascular calcification: Evidence from observational and clinical studies. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(2):158-165. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001644.