Healthy Steps That Seem Important For Strong Bones—But Are They Really?
Dr. Nancy Lin
PhD, Holistic Nutritionist
Doctors often recommend several steps to ensure strong, healthy, bones - but some might not be as helpful as you think
The health and nutritional field is full of doctors, specialists, nutritionists, and health “experts” who make their living by providing you with effective ways to improve your overall health, decrease your risk of chronic illness, and improve the quality of your life.
But with an aging population in the US, this collective field of health experts has started to shift their time and effort to proving their best recommendations for things like preventing osteoporosis and keeping your bones strong and healthy.
There’s good reason for this renewed interest in maintaining strong, healthy bones as we get older. Recent research demonstrates that the number of people developing osteoporosis is on the rise. In fact, low bone density and osteoporosis now affect the health and quality of life of over 55% of men and women over the age of 50 - that works out to be over 45 million people, just over the age of 50 alone, dealing with this condition.
Peaking at 30?!
The bones in your body are continuously changing throughout the course of your life - your body is constantly making new bone and breaking old bone down. When we are young - mostly in our childhood, adolescence and young adulthood our body makes bone faster than it breaks bones down...And then we hit our 30’s - and then we reach our peak bone mass. At that point bones our bones start breaking down bone faster than we make new bone, which is how our bones become less dense and more brittle with age - a condition better known as osteoporosis.
Bone Health Tips From the Internet Doctor
With low bone mass contributing to a number of health risks, including back and joint pain, poor posture, and brittle bones, a quick internet search will produce several recommendations for the treatment and prevention of low bone density. At first glance, most of these recommendations seem to be reasonable steps for keeping your bones strong and healthy; but are they really?
While several of these recommendations are certainly helpful, you might be surprised to learn that many of these recommendations are not as helpful as you have been led to believe; and some actually contribute to other health conditions, including increased risk of heart disease, chronic inflammation - and in the case of some of these recommendations, actually increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Let’s take a look at the effectiveness (or in some cases, the ineffectiveness) of some of the most commonly recommended ways to prevent low bone mass and osteoporosis
Milk Builds Strong, Healthy Bones...Or Does It?
Since we were kids, we have been taught the endless benefits of drinking milk, especially for the development of strong bones and healthy teeth. And when it comes to milk, we certainly practice what we preach! We pour it on our cereal for breakfast and serve it to our kids each day in school; remember the saying - “Milk - it does a body good!”.... Or does it?
We’ve come to understand that a key factor in the development of strong, healthy bones is consuming adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals like selenium and zinc. So, it stands to reason that drinking milk, which contains all these essential minerals, on a regular basis would be the perfect way to ensure strong, healthy bones - but recent research demonstrates the opposite may actually be true!
In fact, the study, which followed the milk consumption habits of over 100,000 men and women (ages 39-79) over a 15-year period, found that those who drank three or more glasses of milk per day not only increased their risk of bone and hip fracture, they also nearly doubled their overall risk of mortality.
Looking further into the reasons behind these shocking conclusions, researchers found that milk alone might not provide the health benefits we once thought it did. Specifically, D-galactose, a natural sugar found in milk, when consumed in large quantities, has been shown to induce oxidative stress damage and chronic inflammation in the body. The damage resulting from chronic inflammation has been linked to bone loss and decreased muscle mass, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers.
The other important point to consider is that while calcium is essential for bone health, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and maintains adequate blood levels of calcium and phosphate to allow for normal bone mineralization. Considering that the majority of people are deficient in vitamin D and that milk, unless it is fortified with vitamin D, does not contain adequate amounts of vitamin D, the calcium in milk is most likely not being absorbed into your bones.
As a result, new guidelines recommend drinking a maximum of one cup of milk a day and seeking calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D from other, non-dairy sources, including dark leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard, broccoli, figs, or oranges.
If you find it difficult to consume adequate amounts of these vitamins and minerals through whole food sources, you’ll definitely want to supplement with a high-quality multi-vitamin that sources its ingredients from bioavailable whole food sources.
Prevent Osteoporosis by Soaking Up Some Rays
As mentioned above, calcium is essential for strong, healthy bones, but Vitamin D is required to help your body absorb and use calcium and to increase the density of your bones. While you can try to get the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D from whole food sources like eggs, liver, or salmon, it’s nearly impossible to do so on a daily basis.
Fortunately, spending just 15 minutes in the sun each day allows your body to make enough vitamin D to support the health of your bones. However, with our busy lifestyle - coupled with the changing seasons in many parts of the country - getting a consistent 15-minutes of sunlight each day can be a real challenge.
With vitamin D being an essential component in the fight against osteoporosis, and sourcing from food and sometimes the sun becoming more difficult to do, supplementing with a quality vitamin D3 (not D2) supplement ensures sufficient amounts of vitamin D required to support your bone density and overall bone health. Also to ensure the vitamin D3 does it job and keeps the calcium in the bones it must include vitamin K2, look for plant-based sources of each.
Skip the Soda, But Eat Your Prunes
Drinking soda, or sugary drinks in general, is devastating to your health and contributes to high glucose levels, weight gain, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, asthma, COPD, chronic inflammation, and osteoporosis.
In fact, soda is so dangerous to the health of our bones that research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates that for every serving of soda you average per day, your risk of hip fracture increases by nearly 15%!
While the exact correlation has yet to be determined, it’s looking more and more like the sugar, caffeine, and phosphorus, contained in soda and similar drinks, prevents your bones from fully absorbing and accessing calcium, leading to decreased bone mass and an overall weakening of your bones.
On the other hand, if you are looking for some natural sweetness in your diet, eating prunes not only improves your digestive health, but new research also shows prunes to be great for supporting strong, healthy bones too. In fact, the study, conducted by Osteoporosis International, found that eating a single serving of prunes each day for six month provided enough magnesium, vitamin K, potassium, and boron to help prevent bone loss over that period of time.
Bone Up On The Bioavailability Of Your Calcium By Eating Your Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens, including kale, arugula, Bok Choy, collards, and spinach, are loaded with calcium; they are also great sources of potassium and vitamin K - both essential in preventing calcium loss from bones.
One commonly shared concern when opting to source calcium from vegetable sources (as opposed to dairy) is the calcium content per serving, especially when compared to dairy products. While it is important to be aware of how much calcium is in the foods we eat, it is equally as important to understand how much calcium is actually absorbed into our bones - or bioavailable.
As an example, one cup of cow’s milk contains 300 mg of calcium. Of that 300 mg of calcium, only 90 mg, or 30% is actually absorbable by your body. On the other hand, 2 cups of kale contains 200 mg of calcium; however, your body will absorb 60%, or 120 mg, of the calcium, making it a better bioavailable source of calcium; the same concept holds true for other vitamins and essential trace minerals found in vegetables - and especially dark, leafy greens.
Bone Health Myth: Cardio Is Best for Strong Bones
Vitamins and minerals aren’t the only things that you need to keep your bones strong and health. Living a sedentary lifestyle, and not getting enough exercise, poses a significant risk for increasing your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Like your muscles, bones are living tissue that becomes stronger with exercise. For most people, bone mass peaks in your 30s; then you start to lose bone; that’s why it’s essential to exercise on a regular basis and to slow and prevent the loss of bone density.
To keep bones strong, many health professionals recommend engaging in regular cardiovascular exercises like swimming or biking. However, while participating in any exercise is better than no exercise as all, studies have proven again and again that regular participation in weight-bearing and strength-training exercises, not cardio-based exercises, are best for increasing bone density and reducing your risk of fractures as you age.
These resistance-based exercises, including walking, climbing stairs, weight training, tai chi, and yoga, have demonstrated to preserve bone mass and strengthen your bones; for best results, engage in strength-training on a regular basis and for least 30 minutes, preferably every day.
Have A Drink - For Bone Health?
The dangers of drinking too much alcohol have been well documented and over time can even contribute to decreased bone mass. However, an interesting study has found that men and women who drink one beer each day demonstrate greater bone mass than non-drinkers.
Researchers believe that beer’s ability to contribute to bone health is a result of its high levels of phytoestrogens and silicon; both of which have been shown to slow bone loss.
It’s worth pointing out that these findings are not a reason for non-drinkers to start drinking beer, but they do demonstrate an interesting health benefit for those who enjoy one beer a day.
Blueprint for the Perfect Brain Health Multi
When adding a multivitamin and mineral to your diet it’s important to understand that the old-fashioned multi-tablet is cutting it anymore. And probably never did.
A historic 10-year multivitamin study with over 100,000 participants changed everything. It provided the exact blueprint for that perfect multivitamin formula - while also revealing the hidden dangers of daily multivitamin tablets.
For decades, marketers of multi vitamin and mineral supplements (multi’s) have been pushing more is better, often promoting many nutrients in their formulas above the 100% RDA level, that’s the “recommended dietary allowance” set by the FDA.
But is more healthier?
Multiple studies have concluded that the answer is NO! Including conclusions reached by one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever done on dietary supplements - an independent, multi-cultural study with over 100,000 participants, aptly named “The Multi Study”.
The Multi Study, funded by the US Department of Agriculture, provided all the information you need to know about multi’s. The purpose of the study was simple. Health officials wanted to know once and for all if the multi tablets, we’re really doing what they were supposed to do, provide the right amount of missing vitamins and minerals that we don’t get enough of from the food we eat called the “the nutrient shortfall amount”. The study determined 2 important things about how we get our vitamins and minerals.
The Multi Study laid out exactly which vitamins and minerals our diets are deficient in, and which ones we are not.
The Multi Study provided information on what’s called “the nutrient shortfall” of each vitamin and mineral that we don’t get enough of from food.
Shocking Discovery Revealed in The Multi Study
It was found that American multi-users were simultaneously getting too little of many important key nutrients, while at the same time getting too much, even dangerously high and toxic harmful levels, of other key nutrients from their multi tablet.
The Multi Study Exposed Popular Multi Tablets Formulated All Wrong
The health impacts of this improper nutrient dosing (the wrong amount of a vitamin or mineral), exposed in The Multi Study, can mean serious negative health consequences over time. For example, getting too much iron, which The Multi Study found to be common with conventional multi tablets, can cause your brain to malfunction and age much faster than normal.
Conventional Multi Tablets Miss the Mark
The medical researchers’ dual findings from The Multi Study clearly showed that Americans were getting an overdose of certain nutrients, and an underdose of other nutrients, from their multi tablets. In general, the findings concluded that, when diet is factored in, Americans are getting too much of some vitamins and not enough of other vitamins and minerals. These conclusions were presented to the National Institute of Health (NIH), and published in peer reviewed medical journal articles.
A Smarter Way: Formulating the Perfect Multi
Using the real nutrient shortfall Smarter Nutrition formulated 2019’s supplement of the year, Smarter Multi, with just the right amount of each nutrient for optimum health – not too little and not too much. It’s truly the “first and only” perfect multivitamin and exactly what we need daily to help provide the nutrient support we need to support bone health.
Smarter Multi: We Eat Plants… We Don’t Eat Dirt!
As with vitamins, getting a daily intake of essential minerals is extremely important for your health. That’s why nutritional experts encourage us to get our minerals from fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables along with a daily supplement. Since your body can’t manufacture minerals, unlike it can with many other nutrients, you cannot truly be healthy without a daily intake of the key essential minerals!
But here’s the problem. Most minerals in multi tablets are synthetic and inorganic, derived from crushing mineral-rich rocks. Now mankind only started taking multi mineral supplements about 60 years ago. But for hundreds of thousands of years humans derived their minerals from food, not rocks. This means they were from organic-food, not inorganic-dirt. So, it’s highly unlikely our genes have yet fully adapted to the “unnatural” inorganic form of minerals in everyday multi tablets.
Using Rocks Versus Fruits & Vegetables Just Isn’t Right
If inorganic “dirt-like” minerals in multi tablets are not natural to the body, then why do the supplement manufacturers still use them? It all comes down to money. It’s extremely cheap and easy just to pulverize rocks, extract the minerals, and press them into a hard tablet. But is this good for you? Here’s some examples of synthetic and inorganic sources of the 5 top minerals used by typical multi manufacturers.
- Calcium. The typical type of calcium in traditional multi tablets is calcium carbonate. Chalk you find in a classroom is mostly calcium carbonate – but have you ever thought about eating it? Calcium carbonate is so very poorly absorbed in the body, to meet your daily requirement for calcium you’d have to take a handful of big, hard calcium carbonate tablets each day. One of the most commonly used sources of calcium carbonate for supplements is discarded oyster shells. This is not a food source!
- Magnesium. Magnesium oxide is the most typical form found in popular multi’s, and its absorption rate is also dismal. It is derived from pulverizing limestone and periclase, a mineral found in marble.
- Potassium. The most common form in multi’s is potassium chloride. It’s found in a rock called sylvite.
- Zinc. The most common form found in multi tablets is zinc oxide, which is also used as a lip and face cream to prevent the skin from sunburn. Most zinc oxide is produced synthetically and inorganically in overseas factories.
- Boron. Although very few multis on the market contain it, though they should, the few that do most commonly use synthetic boric acid as their source. Boric Acid is used as an insecticide, flame retardant, cockroach killer, and as a precursor to many dangerous chemical compounds. Do you really want this in your daily multi?
A Smarter Way – Organic Food Derived Minerals the Brain and Body Crave
Now for the good news, with Smarter’s Multi you’re not stuck with inorganic minerals. You now have a great, natural alternative to poorly digested inorganic minerals found in multi tablets - organic minerals from REAL FOOD!
“Going Organic” now also applies to your intake of daily essential minerals. Your body is much more receptive and responsive to organic minerals from food – real fruits and vegetables. Here are the natural and organic food sources of minerals found in the Smarter Multi. Now compare with the inorganic list above in typical multi tablets. Which would you rather have in your body?
Smarter Multis Natural & Organic Mineral Sources
- Calcium from almonds, Amaranth grain and the superfood red-green algae.
- Magnesium from sesame and sunflower seeds, spearmint leaf, dill and okra.
- Potassium from spinach and banana.
- Zinc from wheat germ, pumpkin seed, watermelon, banana and cocoa.
- Boron from prunes, broccoli, peach and pear.
Smarter Multi – Important Part of a Healthy Daily Routine
Smarter Multi ensures you get the exact right amount of each vitamin and mineral daily. Smarter Multi delivers all your daily essential nutrients in the most bioavailable form possible - not a rock-hard compressed tablet, but vitamins that come in a veggie softgel with a digestive-friendly ginger oil base, and minerals that come in an easy to digest and absorb fine, loose-pack powder.
For not just improving bone health but overall brain health and body wellness as well, Smarter Multi is an important part of a healthy daily routine.
CLICK HERE for more information on improving bone health and on Smarter Multi, including how to get started!