Osteopenia & calcium supplements

by (20) Updated June 06, 2012 at 1:47 PM Created June 05, 2012 at 10:20 PM

I'm a Paleo newbie but already feel amazing after giving up grains & dairy. I'm a 55yr old healthy (low bp, normal weight, low cholesterol) & very active (aerobic & weight training) female with moderately annoying gut issues that disappeared after only one week on a Paleo diet. Yay! I have no trouble sourcing pasture raised/free range animal protein or organically grown veg/fruit as I own a cafe that only uses ethically raised meat & grows most of it's own produce. My question is to do with calcium. I'm mildly osteopenic according to a recent bone scan. My vitD level was also slightly low. I now take a vitD plus a fish oil supplement on the recommendation of my doctor who also suggested I increase my dairy intake. Clearly that's not going to happen! Should I take a calcium supp as well & if so what type? Thank-you Ps Love this forum.

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3 Replies

8004 · June 05, 2012 at 11:00 PM

If you're concerned about bone health, please also make sure you're getting enough vitamin K2. (Best sources: fats & organ meat from grassfed/pastured animals - butter, cream, egg yolks, liver. You can get K1 from leafy greens but people vary in their ability to convert it to K2, which is "the good stuff." K1 is mostly involved in blood clotting.)

K2 is what tells the body where to put calcium so that it goes into our bones and teeth, where want it, and stays out of our blood vessels, joints, and kidneys, where we don't want it. (This is why we have so many people with joint and blood vessel calcification while at the same time having osteoporosis. The problem isn't too little calcium, but rather too much calcium going to the wrong places. People are sucking down yogurt, calcium chews, fat-free milk, and so many packaged foods are now being "fortified" with calcium, but they're not balancing that out with all the other stuff bones need to be strong besides calcium.)

So yeah - calcium is important for bone health, but so are vitamins D & K2, magnesium, phosphorus, and a bunch of other stuff you'll generally get enough of just by eating good, real, whole foods.

5179 · June 05, 2012 at 10:39 PM

I've also been diagnosed with osteopenia. Taking magnesium can help maximize the body's use of calcium. Cordain said this somewhere but I can't find the citation right now. Magnesium also benefits sleep for some and helps with constipation, so I take it too with my calcium (it's a 3fer). About 400mg of the citrate...I don't know how much of the glycinate. Don't take the mag ox. I'm also taking Vitamin D3 10000IU. Calcium citrate is good, relatively cheap, and easier on the stomach than the carbonate. Hope this helps you!

340 · June 06, 2012 at 3:45 AM

I'm afraid there is no consensus yet on what to do for osteoporosis. Calcium supplements are a no no. It's been shown again and again. But then if not calcium, then what?

The answer being given is that you need K-2, "the calcium crossing guard" to direct calcium away from the veins and to the bones. Plus you need sufficient Vitamin D and Magnesium. Those 2 vitamins and mineral supposedly "regulate" calcium. I'm not actually convinced. I've yet to see any scientific evidence nor any mechanism that show that these minerals and vitamins are directly involved.

Then there are different opinions on whether calcium can be best gotten through green vegetables such as kale, spinach, bok choy and broccoli. But it's not clear whether such dietary calcium is even "bioavailable".

Then there's dairy: mainstream medicine recommends dairy as a dietary alternative to calcium supplements. Some Paleos and vegans oppose on grounds that dairy doesn't promote bone density due to acidity and Vitamin A. Ironically, countries with the highest dairy consumption have very high rates of osteoporosis.

Some people actually take low-dose (>500) calcium supplements reasoning that K-2 will keep the calcium away from the arteries. Some reason that it's the calcium "bolus" that promotes CVD risk, so low-dose calcium spread out during the day isn't dangerous.

We need some consensus on this, folks! We need stronger evidence of calcium coordination by K-2, Mg, and D-3. And stronger evidence of dietary calcium that is bioavailable in green veggies and non-dairy animal protein.

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