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Calcium Supplements Don’t Build Bones — NOT!

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Recent front-page news stories all over the country declared that Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation were worthless when it comes to preventing bone fractures. This is irresponsible reporting, in my opinion, and it likely caused millions of women to throw away their Calcium supplements. But when you look at the actual study results, these reports were dead wrong. Let’s take a second look at the study results.

First of all, this study was extremely flawed. The form of Calcium used in the study (Calcium carbonate) is actually the least favorable for absorption purposes. The dose of Vitamin D used (400 iu) is not considered high enough for supporting Calcium absorption and building bone density. And, the women were not instructed to take Magnesium, Zinc and the other essential nutrients for building optimal bone density. But that’s the least of this study’s flaws.

According to the study report, about 40% of the women in the study group assigned to take the Calcium and Vitamin D didn’t even take the supplement regularly.

And furthermore, the placebo group was allowed to take any vitamins on their own, if they wanted. As it turns out many of the women in the placebo group were indeed taking Calcium and Vitamin D, even though they were in the placebo study group. In addition, both groups were allowed to take drugs like Fosamax, Calcitonin and hormone therapies that are known to prevent bone loss and maintain bone density. As you can see, this was a very poorly designed study, and it is unheard of in the scientific community that a control placebo group would be allowed to actually take the substances being studied.

And considering all this, the study still proved that the women who received Calcium and Vitamin D had a significant increase in hipbone mineral density. According to the study results, there was a 29% reduction in hip fracture in the women who actually took the supplements at least 80% of the time. But that is not what was reported!

A study this poorly designed should not have made the front pages at all. But this is big news and sells papers! It is so unfortunate that there was no investigation into what the actual results were. And, at my most cynical, I’d say this kind of reporting is great news for the pharmaceutical industry. After all, there is a lot of profit to be made with drugs used to treat osteoporosis.

Of course, this is not to say that taking Calcium and Vitamin D are the only measures for maintaining a healthy bone density. In fact, taking Calcium with an unhealthy diet will provide very limited benefit. It’s important to understand that Calcium works synergistically with other minerals and nutrients to build bone. And, they should be taken in the most absorbable forms, at the right times and in the correct doses. In addition, a bone building program starts with eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, having a consistent exercise program and avoiding the foods and beverages that produce an acidic environment which accelerates the lose of Calcium from the bones. If you’d like to set up a bone-building program for you, call for an appointment. We’ll set up a personalized program to help you eliminate the food and life-style “bone-busters” and incorporate the “bone-builders” so your prevention program has the best chance of working for you.