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 stars vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and trace minerals. Each member of the company 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.
So, what else do you do? Here are some simple, practical tips to get these key vitamins and minerals into your bloodstream and bones.
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. And 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 can sun a few mushrooms at a time, cook and eat them right away, or sun 10 pounds of mushrooms at a time, dry and store them, and you’ll have supplemental vitamin D on hand for months to come.
Magnesium and K2: Essential, Yet Elusive
Magnesium is another wheel in the calcium transport machinery. Without it, there’s a standstill. And vitamin K2 also 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’t spray on vitamin K2, but a few foods offer it.
Herbs Contain Concentrated Nutrients
A great many herbs contain every ingredient you need to build bone and in the right ratios. If you combine apple cider vinegar and certain herbs and let them sit for a few weeks, then put a tablespoon of this delicious herbal vinegar in some hibiscus water or anything else you like to drink or eat, you’ve supplied nearly half your daily calcium along with vitamins, trace minerals, phytonutrients and myriad benefits. Herbs are a concentrated food with highly concentrated nutrients. Another occasion to toss the calcium pill. See our special bone-healthy vinegar recipe.
A Healthy Gut for Healthy Bones
The health of your gut bugs is no small matter. Without an intact and healthy gut lining and gut barrier, nutrition absorption is radically compromised. A large portion of your immune system is actually located in your gut, so keeping this healthy is of paramount importance to overall good health, as well as bone health. In a healthy gut, enzymes and bacteria allow the foods you eat to be broken down properly and taken into the bloodstream. Once that happens, the freed calcium can be absorbed in the intestines in two ways. The first path needs the presence of vitamin D. The second main site of calcium absorption does not require vitamin D, but absorption is greatly increased in the presence of a simple sugar such as lactose (milk sugar). Probiotic and prebiotic foods are great for this, and that includes lots of fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and more.
There’s a lot of information about bone health to take in, and trying to keep it all in your head would reduce the pleasure of developing the knowledge, confidence, and skill to take charge of your bone health. But by spending time gradually learning about foods and combinations of nutrients that support bone health—and if you’re so inclined, learning the scientific whys and wherefores—it will eventually become instinctive to choose foods that help you curb if not eliminate the need for pharmaceuticals. This knowledge, along with a personalized plan for supplementation that you develop with your doctor or healthcare provider, will lead you toward enduring good health, including good bone health.