Improving Bone Strength Naturally
Recently, I told you about five ways to increase your balance, and decrease your risk of falling.
Because, we have to face facts—no matter how active and aware you are, your balance will decrease with age.
Which means, sooner or later, you’re going to stumble.
The key is to make sure that your body can take it. And that means strong muscles and bones.
But before I tell you how to strengthen your bones—many of the most effective methods a surprise—we have to understand why your bones are getting weaker to begin with.
From bendy to brittle
Babies are amazing creatures. They take falls all the time, and—aside from a little crying at the surprise—bad things rarely happen.
That’s partially because babies are so light, so they impact with less force.
But babies also have very supple, flexible bones. At a young age, bones are closer to cartilage than to what we think of as calcified sticks.
As we age, bones lose first their flexibility and then their density.
In the worst case—with osteoporosis—bone density becomes so thin that very small impacts can cause very big breaks.
This is where the real danger lies.
But beware the calcium cure-all
In “Death By Calcium,” Dr. Thomas Levy posits that the problem with bones as we age isn’t the amount of calcium we have, but how our body is using that calcium.
He has found that, at least in some cases, osteoporosis sufferers and others with low bone density have plenty of calcium in their bodies.
The problem is the calcium isn’t getting to the bones. Consequently, supplementing with calcium doesn’t do nearly as much good as previously thought.
Worse, too much calcium can actually lead to a number of adverse side affects—including a 250% increase in mortality from all causes.
Vitamin D actually plays a more important role than calcium, as it is responsible for telling the body how to use the calcium it has.
However, vitamin D can increase the amount of calcium taken up in the blood, the organs, and all the other systems of the body—in addition to bones.
In short, calcium and Vitamin D are important to bone health. But like Goldilocks, you need to make sure that the amount you’re getting is just right.
So how do you strike an ideal balance? I tend to recommend calcium from natural sources…and interestingly enough, algae is among the best.
Five steps to healthy bones
- Take a natural calcium supplement, with Vitamin D and magnesium. My favorites come from algae. They come with about 360 mg of calcium—less than the recommended daily allowance, but more than enough when supplemented with other helpful ingredients.
The RDA is 1000-1200 mg a day, depending on your age and gender. However, at least half of that intake should come from dietary sources, not a supplement.
As noted above, Vitamin D helps your body make efficient use of the calcium you’re taking.
As long as you don’t overdo the calcium consumption, Vitamin D can be a lifesaver. It helps your body put its calcium to best use. In this case, better bone density, with a sound matrix as well. My favorite algae-based calcium supplement also contains 800 IU of Vitamin D—that’s enough to ensure everything is working correctly, but well below dangerous levels. Even 400 IU will often be sufficient.
Meanwhile, basically every one of my patients suffers from low magnesium. And you need proper levels of magnesium in order to make full use of the Vitamin D that you’re taking.
175 mg is enough to get your body working efficiently, though you can safely take twice as much. Most safe algae-based supplements will provide you the proper amount of magnesium, Vitamin D, and calcium all at once.
- Take a strontium supplement as well. Strontium hasn’t been as well-studied, but it’s a compound very similar to calcium, and it may play a similar role in bone health.
For that reason, I recommend patients suffering from bone problems take strontium as well. Don’t exceed 680 mg—we simply don’t know if it’s safe at higher levels yet, especially in conjunction with calcium.
However, it’s safe at those levels. And it appears to do a lot of good.
- Do plenty of resistance training. The best, most natural way to strengthen muscles—and, by extension, bones—is through resistance training.
The most popular form of resistance training is weight training, though you can get the same effects by lifting your own body weight—think push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups.
The reason this is so good for bone strength is because resistance training actively pushes against your bones—signaling your body to build them up.
Likewise, when you use your muscles and they tug on your bones, that sends the same signal.
It’s important, when doing resistance training, to change up your routine. If you are always tugging in the same way, your body will adapt to only protect one part of the bone.
By moving your muscles in a variety of ways, it sends the signal to build bone density throughout. So, for instance, if you want to do leg lifts, make sure you do them in front of you, behind you, and to the side as well.
- Lots of small exercises. Your bones feel the benefit of any one exercise fast and then quickly plateau.
So it’s more important to do many sets of a few repetitions, as opposed to a few sets of many repetitions. 10 reps is enough to send the signal to your bones. Do that five times, instead of 50 all at once.
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (or PEMF) This is one of the newest forms of treatment for bone density, but it’s also my favorite.
PEMF was proven to help fractured bones knit back together, in 1999. However, recent studies have also proven that PEMF helps bones build up in healthy patients as well.
The process involves lying on a mat, and letting electromagnetic fields wash over you. They do all the work.
And it doesn’t stop at bones either. PEMF helps with pain, the immune system, arthritis, and a host of other issues.
This is still a young field. But it’s growing quickly.
If you are worried about your bones, I highly recommend you find a doctor with a PEMF mat that can treat you.
But even without PEMF, with the proper supplements, exercise, and attention, your bones can grow stronger even as you age. As balance becomes a greater issue every year, that’s a very powerful thing.
- Bangladesh Medical Research Council Bulletin, “Pulsed electromagnetic fields for bone fractures,” Syed Satter et al, Apr 1999; 25(1):6-10 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10758655
- Oz, “Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields: How They Heal”, Dr. William Pawluk, Nov 14, 2011 http://www.doctoroz.com/article/pulsed-electromagnetic-fields-how-they-heal
- WebMD, “Strontium treatment for Osteoporosis”, Oct 19, 2014 http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/strontium-treatment-osteoporosis
- Better Bones, “Key minerals for bone health—magnesium”, Dr. Susan Brown http://www.betterbones.com/bonenutrition/magnesium.aspx
- New Hope 360, “Death by calcium?”, Dr. Thomas Levy, May 22, 2014 http://newhope360.com/breaking-news/death-calcium
- Women’s Nutrition Connection, “Dos and Don’ts for strengthening bones if you have Osteoporosis”, Nov 2015, page 7
- Journal of Nutrition, “Vitamin D and bone health”, Dr. Holick, Apr 1196; 126 (4Suppl):1159S-64S http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8642450