It’s a widely held belief that calcium is the holy grail for building strong bones. In fact calcium is but ONE of the many minerals your body needs.
According to new research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in the USA recently, dietary intake of magnesium may be the key to developing healthy bones.

We’ve all been led to believe that calcium is the key to prevent weak bones and that calcium supplementation builds strong bones and teeth. But just how effective is calcium supplementation?

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), food will always be the best source of calcium:

“People who get the recommended amount of calcium from foods do not need to take a calcium supplement. These individuals still may need to take a vitamin D supplement. Getting too much calcium from supplements may increase the risk of kidney stones and other health problems. Calcium supplements have been widely embraced by doctors and the public, on the grounds that they are a natural and therefore safe way of preventing osteoporotic fractures,” said the researchers, led by Professor Sabine Rohrmann, from Zurich University’s institute of social and preventative medicine. “It is now becoming clear that taking this micronutrient in one or two daily [doses] is not natural, in that it does not reproduce the same metabolic effects as calcium in food,” they added.

Most supplements in the supplement contain calcium carbonate – an inferior form of calcium with a simple chelating agent like citric acid to make it more absorbable – however the end product is inferior to other calcium supplements.

Also consuming pasteurized dairy products such as milk or cheese to increase calcium levels is totally false. The pasteurization process creates calcium carbonate, so the body pulls the calcium from the bones and other tissues which actually causes osteoporosis!

New data from finds that intake and absorption of magnesium during childhood are key predictors of total bone mineral content and density – while dietary calcium intake was not significantly associated with such measures.

“Lots of nutrients are key for children to have healthy bones. One of these appears to be magnesium,” said Abrams. “Calcium is important, but, except for those children and adolescents with very low intakes, may not be more important than magnesium.”

Greater magnesium intake is significantly related to higher bone mineral density (BMD) in men and women. There is an approximate 2 percent increase in whole-body BMD for every 100 milligram per day increase in magnesium.

For the majority of human history, the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet was 1:1, a ratio that’s considered optimal. A ratio that’s between 1:1 and 2:1 is adequate (for example, 800 mg of calcium to 400 mg of magnesium). Unfortunately, today’s diets contain an average of 10 times more calcium than magnesium.

Magnesium comes in many forms. Magnesium oxide or chloride is fine, as is chelated magnesium. Capsules usually contain 250-500 mg of magnesium. You can also use a calcium/magnesium supplement. Experiment with levels. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 350-400 mg per day, although for optimal levels, you may need as much as twice that amount.

It’s best to take your magnesium in divided doses throughout the day. You can take it either on an empty stomach or with meals. You can also add Epsom salts to your baths–Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. It’s absorbed through the skin and will help replenish magnesium stores. This “treatment” can easily include a relaxing bath with a good book.

Only one percent of the body’s magnesium is in the blood, and the body will take it from bones and tissues if that level drops. That means that a blood test could easily show a normal reading, even when the rest of the body is very deficient.

The best sources of magnesium will always be food. Dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables. Cacao, seeds, and nuts of any kind are among the highest food sources in magnesium.

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