Calcium is the bone health star, but it can’t make bone alone. A specific group of nutrients including though not limited to calcium makes up bone – but only in the right conditions. Here’s the bottom line.
Calcium Pills Aren’t Enough
Calcium pills alone do not and cannot prevent or treat bone loss. That’s because calcium cannot make the journey from the digestive system through the bloodstream and into bone without a large supporting cast that includes vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and trace minerals. Each member of this nutrient cast plays a part in calcium absorption and calcium transport to bone. Without them, calcium can settle where you don’t want it—in joints and blood vessels.
Supplements Are No Match for Food
Nutrients from natural foods function differently in your body than the same nutrients isolated and packaged as supplements. Imagine planting a calcium pill. It would not grow into a bone. Nutrients in isolated form are not functional. Natural food comprises enzymes, vitamins, minerals, proteins, phytoestrogens, and many other elements that interact to produce the nutrition show.
Each of the Bone’s Favorite Foods is rich in at least major bone health nutrient; some contain vitamins that promote mineral absorption and transport.
Each Healthy Bones recipe provides nutrients required to prevent and treat excessive bone loss.
Magnesium and K2 are Elusive Yet Essential
Magnesium is essential to mineral (including calcium) transport. Vitamin K2 keeps calcium on track for deposit in the bones. Your body makes neither one, and neither is abundant in the modern Western diet. Beyond that, even in a healthy gut magnesium digestion is less than ideal. Magnesium is best applied as a spray and absorbed through the skin. You can buy a magnesium spray, or make one following the directions we provide in chapter 6. You can’t spray on vitamin K2, but a few foods offer it; see Bones’ Favorite Foods pages 116-117 in The HEALTHY BONES Book.
The Wonders of Sunshine and Mushrooms
Since vitamin D plays a key role in bone health, we humans are exceptionally lucky that nature offers a ready source of it that we can take every day at little cost or for free: sunshine.
You can gain a day’s vitamin D3 dose by exposing most of your skin (not just hands and feet) to the sun for 20 minutes per day—outdoors if you have the luxury of privacy or in a sun-filled room such as a conservatory. Be cautious, though; while exposure to sunshine can decrease your likelihood of death from all diseases significantly, overexposure can damage your skin. So please do not exceed 20 minutes’ direct sun exposure—not because you can make too much vitamin D (you can’t), but because if you don’t have sufficient vitamin C longer exposure can damage the skin.
If you don’t wish to sit in the sun or don’t have an opportunity to do so on a regular basis, mushrooms make vitamin D just the way your skin does—by sitting in the sun. If you set mushrooms in the sun for two days running, they make vitamin D that remains full strength for a year. You gain calcium and D plus dozens of nourishing nutrients—and there goes that calcium-with-D supplement pill right out the window.