WHAT IS THE BEST CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (they say that 1 in 6 Americans are suffering with the disease --- 54 million), Osteoporosis is, "a disease of the bones. It happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. As a result, your bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, even from simple actions, like sneezing or bumping into furniture. If you look at healthy bone under a microscope, you will see that parts of it look like a honeycomb. If you have osteoporosis, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much bigger than they are in healthy bone. This means your bones have lost density or mass and that the structure of your bone tissue has become abnormal. As your bones become less dense, they also become weaker and more likely to break". But this definition itself begs the question of why some people lose bone or fail to make new bone?
WebMD lists a number of causes of Osteoporosis. Among these are DECREASED ESTROGEN in women, decreased testosterone in men, other HORMONAL IMBALANCES, SMOKING, too much drinking, lack of Vitamin D, a sedentary lifestyle, various medical conditions (diseases), THYROID PROBLEMS, or a lack of Calcium in the diet. What's the most common solution to Osteoporosis? Treating it as though the last thing on the list were the most important. People are first told to take CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS and then when they don't work, to take BISPHOSPHOFONATE DRUGS (Relafin, Fosomax, Evista, Boniva, etc). The problem is, these drugs are actually known to cause Osteoporosis instead of correct it. But how can that be? I'll get there in a moment.
- It allows nerves to fire
- It allows muscles to contract
- It allows blood vessels to constrict
- It allows blood to clot
- It helps balance pH (it is a powerful alkalizer)
- It affects the permeability of the cell membrane
I know; your doctor told you to take more Calcium so that you don't become one of those fracture statistics from earlier in the post. But what is the truth here? Listen to what Dr. Levy says about the scientific evidence for using Calcium to prevent Osteoporosis. "Placebo-controlled, long-term, large population studies that specifically investigate the isolated use of Calcium and its impact on bone fractures in osteoporotic patients are decidedly lacking. Calcium supplementation dies not prevent bone fractures. Adding dietary and / or supplementary calcium does not diminish fracture risk". Gulp! In fact, just the opposite is true.
Levey goes on to say that, "Calcium excess in the body has been found to increase all-cause mortality and to literally be the most significant marker for increased cardiac risk (Coronary Artery Calcium Score)". And to top it all off, he tells us that, "the chronic release of calcium from osteoporotic bone to the rest of the body not only accelerates heart disease, but all diseases, resulting in significantly decreased longevity". Dr. Levy proceeds to hit us over the head with a statement that should leave all of us pondering what we've been taught our whole lives.
When it comes to bone, there are two cells I want you to be aware of; Osteoblasts and Osteoclasts. Osteoblasts are bone builders. The Osteoclasts take the oldest, most worn out and brittle bone, and break it down so that it can be reused --- recycled it you will, into new and healthy bone by the Osteoblasts. I have been telling patients for at least 15 years that the "Bone-Building" drugs mentioned earlier in this post, do what they are advertised to do --- they increase bone density. But they do it in such a fraudulent and deceptive manner that these drug's labels carry warnings that they do not diminish the risk of fracture. How in the world can this be? How can a drug increase bone density, yet not decrease one's chances of fracture ---- probably the only reason that most women who take these drugs would do so? Allow me to explain.
These drugs work because they shut down Osteoclastic function. In other words, bone density is increased because the old, worn out bone is not allowed to be broken down and recycled (the entire process breaking down and building up is known as "Bone Remodeling"). But here's the rub. Drugs that diminish Osteoclastic function automatically diminish Osteoblastic function as well. This means that when you discuss the results of your bone density test with your doctor, who becomes all excited because it has improved, you can see that their excitement is misguided. About five years ago, people started hearing isolated warnings that being on these drugs for more than 1-3 years could present problems. Dr. Levy says it this way......
"There are several factors that contribute to osteoporotic conditions but there is one that is responsible for the lions share of bone loss. It initiates and severely worsens an imbalance in the bone remodeling cycle and it prevents incorporation of calcium into the bone matrix."
It would seem logical that instead of doing things that inhibit either Osteoclastic or Osteoblastic activity, we need to be asking ourselves what can instead be done to increase the bone's Osteoblastic activity. The method that Dr. Levy chiefly promotes for accomplishing this is supplementing with Vitamin C. In one of his final chapters (The Cause of All Disease: A Unified Theory), Dr. Levy talks about Vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant and proceeds to say that, "The cause of all disease is excess oxidative stress in the extracellular space as well as inside the cells. Excess oxidative stress is invariably caused by toxins and / or a decreased presence of antioxidants.... The ability of vitamin C to effectively neutralize a wide range of toxins has been very clearly established in the scientific literature, even if that ability remains to be appreciated, understood, and appropriately utilized by most physicians." That, my friends, is a powerful statement. As a Cardiologist, Levy understands both physiology and the scientific literature. And as an attorney, he understands the implications of making overarching statements without anything solid to back it up. But here is where I start to ask some questions.
For almost two decades now, I have chiefly been a WHOLE-FOODS kind of guy. In other words, I not only want to consume as much of the foods that I eat in a natural, organic state, I want my NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS to be like that as well. One of the oldest Nutritional Supplement companies in the US is Standard Process in Palmyra, Wisconsin. If you want to understand the difference between Whole Food Supplements and fractionated chemical synthetics, click on the previous links. There is even a section on Vitamin C. When doctor Levy talks in his book about routinely using mega-doses of Vitamin C (as much as 200,000 mg in IV's, and sometimes tens of thousands of mg oral), it makes me wonder. I am not saying that there is never a time or place for using synthetic C as a drug --- I would wholeheartedly agree that there is. I do, however, wonder what the consequences of using such heavy doses of synthetics are --- especially when used on a regular basis?
BUILDING AND MAINTAINING STRONG, HEALTHY BONES
- AVOID DRUGS, SMOKES, AND ALCOHOL: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption speak for themselves. However, when I talk about drugs here, I am talking mostly about prescription drugs. Not only do the so-called Osteoporosis Drugs cause Osteoporosis, but a plethora of other drugs do as well. Some of the chief of these are the ACID-BLOCKERS given for stomach problems.
- DEAL WITH THE UNDERLYING HORMONAL FACTORS: I probably do not have to tell you that this bullet point covers a lot of ground. I mentioned some of these factors earlier in the post. Rest assured that one of the biggest factors in this category is dealing with BELLY FAT. Yes, I realize that some of you who are dealing with hormonal issues are thin as a rail, but just listen for a moment. If you will realize that LIVING A HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE is at the root of many (if not most) of your hormonal problems (HERE is an example) changing the way you eat becomes doable. And while I am talking about sugar; if you are still drinking SODA, stop it already! Your body will use the most readily available buffer against its incredible acid content --- Calcium from your bones.
- ENGAGE IN SOME SORT OF RESISTANCE TRAINING: Working your muscles intensely against resistance has long been known to be a powerful stimulator of Osteoblastic activity. If you are one of those people who is seriously into cardio, you may want to browse THESE POSTS.
- TAKE THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS: I could not leave without mentioning Vitamin C. Vitamin D is another (without Calcium). One of the primary tools I use in my clinic is CALCIFOOD. It is the only raw bone-meal supplement I am aware of, and it flat out works.