Dr. Angelina Riopel, ND

“Should I take a calcium supplement for my bones?” 

This is a very common question asked. It has long been believed that a calcium supplementation is necessary to keep bones strong and prevent degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Truth: Studies have found that calcium supplementation has NOT been found to prevent nor correct bone loss or reduce bone fracture rates. Not only has calcium supplementation not been found helpful to bone health, it has been found harmful and related to an increase in coronary artery disease. A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2012 found a 139% percent greater risk of heart attack in those who took calcium supplements over the 11 year period in which the study was conducted, while calcium intake through food did not increase the risk.

The problem being that supplemental calcium, taken as a tablet or in a multivitamin or in calcium enriched packaged foods, is often a large dose but the body is only able to absorb a small amount of the calcium blast and the rest must be eliminated through the kidneys. Often the body isn’t able to fully eliminate it and over time calcium builds up and gets stored, not in the bones, but in the tissues and arteries or can lead to calcium stones in the kidneys.

Solution: Calcium is best absorbed in whole food form, not supplementation.

Good dietary sources of calcium are found in nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, fish with bones like sardines, small amounts of dairy, if tolerated and in bone broth. Bone broth is rich in many minerals including calcium and also provide gelatin, glucosamine and collagen which helps reduce inflammation and improves bones strength. Lemon juice and fermented foods, such as sauerkraut can help with the absorption and utilization of calcium by the body, so squeeze fresh lemon on your leafy green and include sauerkraut with your meals.

 How do I prevent osteoporosis and keep my bones healthy?

Eating a diet rich in whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables, not only increases dietary calcium but also assists in alkalinizing the body. ‘Alkaline forming foods’ break down into minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are beneficial to bone health. Whereas ‘acid forming foods” found in foods such as protein, sugar and some grains break down into acids such as uric acid and phosphoric acid. These acids if not effectively eliminated can accumulate and lead to inflammation and bone degeneration.

Below is a list of Alkaline Forming Foods and Acid Forming Foods which should ideally be consumed in a 80 to 20 percent ratio of alkaline to acid forming foods.

(ACID AND ALKALINE charts below)

Weight bearing exercise helps to preserve and improve bone density, and in the elderly can help preventing falls by improving muscle strength and balance.

Vitamin D & K2 help regulate calcium metabolism improving calcium absorption and bone health.