The conventional wisdom on osteoporosis would have you believe that prevention is all about getting more calcium. We’re told that to build and maintain a healthy skeleton we need to consume more dairy and choose calcium-fortified foods.
But is the conventional wisdom sound?
Consider this: North Americans have some of the highest rates of calcium intake in the world…and yet, we also top the global charts when it comes to osteoporosis. Something is wrong with the equation.
Why Calcium Is Wasted
99% of the body’s calcium is stored in bones and teeth, while only 1% circulates in the bloodstream. Our diet can have a major impact on the availability of this mineral for building bones. Studies show that animal protein, salt, refined sugars and carbonated drinks create a calcium deficit, first drawing on blood supplies, and then robbing the bones.
The supreme irony is that increased dairy – an animal protein – and calcium-fortified foods, typically loaded with sugar and salt, actually undermine bone health.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “The most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes.”
The Missing Mineral: Magnesium
Making efficient use of calcium also means paying attention to magnesium intake. This key mineral is one of the hardest working nutrients in the body.
At the cellular level, magnesium is a complement to calcium; without magnesium, calcium can’t be fully assimilated, leading not only to symptoms of deficiency but also to harmful calcium build-up.
Emerging wisdom recognizes magnesium may actually be more important than calcium for building and maintaining healthy bones.
The recommended daily dose of magnesium is at least 3 mg per pound of body weight. Experts like Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. and author of The Magnesium Miracle, argue that calcium and magnesium levels should be balanced. The ideal ratio is about 1:1, which means that for every mg of calcium you take, you should take a mg of magnesium.
But food sources of calcium are more plentiful in the North American diet. Legumes, leafy greens, nuts and seeds are the best sources of magnesium. To get enough, you’ll need to choose these foods in substantial quantities, every day.
If you choose to supplement, look for a highly absorbable mineral formula. Tablets tend to be less efficiently absorbed, whereas magnesium and calcium drinks, like Natural Calm, are more rapidly taken up by the cells.
Natural Calm Plus Calcium is one of the few cal-mag supplements formulated to deliver more magnesium than calcium, to offset the calcium most of us are getting through diet.