Bone health: How and when to support it
MegaFood | July 2019
Why is bone health important?
Most of us seem to be aware at an early age that calcium is vital to the health of our bones. It’s why we were encouraged to drink a glass of milk with our dinner, right? Yet beyond that little nugget of Mom’s wisdom, most people don’t seriously consider bone health until they are much older, when the risk of bone loss -and its implications- becomes more pressing.
The truth is, bone health should be on our radar throughout all stages of life. And calcium, while vital, is not the only nutrient to consider! In fact, once we reach the age of 25, our bone-building days are over.
Our bones house over 98% of the calcium stores found in our bodies, and when calcium is needed elsewhere in the body, we snag some from the bones to get the job done. When our requirement of calcium in the body outweighs our dietary intake, however, we run the risk of calcium depletion, leading to bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
Calcium Traffic Cops
According to our Chief Medical Advisor, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., in her book Fortify Your Life, “Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body, with roughly 99 percent of it stored in our teeth and bones. Bones act as a storage reservoir for calcium, where it helps maintain the integrity of our skeleton” (147). For this reason, it’s the main nutrient we think of when someone mentions ‘bone health.’”
Like all nutrients, however, calcium does not work in isolation. Instead, it requires a team of vitamins and minerals to get it where it needs to go. Doctor Erin Stokes, ND, MegaFood’s Medical Director, refers to these nutrients as traffic cops, directing the calcium to its proper place in the body. This team of dedicated traffic cops includes vitamins C, D, and K, as well as magnesium and other trace minerals. Without this guidance, calcium can end up in places it shouldn’t be!
Just the right amount
Another important consideration is the amount of calcium you are getting. According to Doctor Low Dog, “Excessive intake of calcium [above the RDA] is not good for you...All that extra calcium has to go somewhere, and you don’t need it settling in where it doesn’t belong” (157). She recommends estimating your dietary intake of calcium, and supplementing only the difference up to the RDA of 1,000-1,200mg daily, depending on age. She also cautions that “calcium can’t be absorbed in large quantities. Don’t supplement with more than 500mg at a time (Note: Most of you shouldn’t be supplementing with more than 500mg, anyway!)” (153).
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