So how much calcium do you really need for building bone density?

Most women come into my office having been told to take 1200mg by their MDs.  Well, it is time to re-evaluate this, particularly in lieu of the current wave to take high doses of vitamin D.

The recommendations for 1200 mg of calcium are going back many years before this current vitamin D craze.  None of these nutrients are in a vacuum and just as the recommendations for vitamin D have changed, so do the recommended protocols for building and maintaining bone density that include the things affected by the vitamin D, like calcium and vitamin K.

I have often thought that MDs making vitamin recommendations is a very bad idea.  It’s not their fault, it is just that they get virtually no training in the field of nutrition, in addition they do not use nutritional medicine primarily for curative health changes with their patients on a daily basis like us NDs do.  So I am writing this for those of you taking high doses of vitamin D along with some generic form of calcium, and not knowing if you are doing it correctly.  Perhaps you are doing what you were told by your MD, or worse yet, your health food store or a website having nothing to do with any doctor that just wants your money and cares nothing about your outcome.

What form of calcium? And how much vitamin D?  This is where the nuances lie, and why you need to read on.

Not all calcium is created equal.  Calcium carbonate (the main ingredient in Tums) packs the milligrams into a pill, but is poorly absorbed for most.  Calcium carbonate buffers stomach acid to the point that taking it can actually compromise other minerals from being absorbed, and you need more minerals than just calcium to maintain and build bone density!  Citrate takes up a lot more space so needs more pills, but is better absorbed and does not affect stomach acid adversely.  (and as we get older, we are only getting more deficient in stomach acid, not more acidic…heartburn is a sign of insufficient stomach acid, not too much!).

And let’s couple this with the current vitamin D situation.  It has taken hold on our society like wildfire, and that gets me a little nervous actually.  Never before have we been telling so many patients to dose 5,000, and 10,000 units of vitamin D daily, and these pharmaceutical doses are now available for self-treatment on the super market shelf.  These recommendations are based somewhat on hype, and not every study of high dose vitamin D is painting a sunny picture, especially for the elderly. Who knows what will come of this.  For now though I am keeping my recommendations around 3000 units per day for most situations, still offering excellent benefit for bone building and cancer prevention.  Keep in mind this is still over eight times more than what was being recommended just 5 five yrs ago.  Vitamin D helps get that calcium into the bloodstream.  When we take more of it, more calcium is floating around.

So, and this is what you need to read: taking too much of the wrong calcium on top of too much vitamin D is a potentially volatile combination for the arteries, along with creating potentially compromising trace mineral deficiencies.  It is my opinion that if you take higher amounts of vitamin D that you need less calcium.

For this reason, for most of my patients who do not have extenuating health concerns other than wanting to build or maintain bone density, I recommend about 600-700 mg of a more absorbable calcium like a citrate form, divided in two doses for maximum absorption of all minerals, along with mineral co-factors like magnesium.  This dose has helped many of my patients over the years to build or maintain their bone density nicely, keeping in mind that most of us do get calcium from our diet, either from green leafy vegetables, dairy products, calcium fortified dairy substitutes and orange juice, or the bones from canned sardines and salmon.

So how is that calcium getting out of your blood and into your bones so it does not stick around your arteries?  Vitamin K has a lot to do with that.  Get it in!  Find it in green leafy veggies like broccoli, make sure you have good bacterial balance in your intestines by taking my recommended probiotics (as they can create vitamin K), and make sure it is included with your vitamin D and calcium to ensure it is there when you need it!

If your head is a little full right now, no worries. Recently I have just created my newest formula: Bone Density Support, based on many years of experience for what actually works the most effectively, as well as patients feedback.  You can see the ingredients by clicking below and you can compare what you are doing now to what is listed on my label.  You can create the amounts I have listed yourself with your own combination of products, or support my small business and this blog and order mine- as it is the very best pharmaceutical grade available and much better than anything you will find on any store shelf!  Either way, my goal is to make sure my patients and customers are getting the very best of the best for your health.