The Natural Medicine Journal reviewed a JAMA paper that analyzed 33 randomized clinical trials on the effects of Vit D and calcium on fractures. The results were quite surprising to a public that’s been lead to believe that Vit D is the next best thing to sliced bread. Oh, wait, bread is also out of favor now isn’t it? It seems like everything is being called into question these days. And that’s as it should be.
The 33 trials that included 51,145 older than 50 years found:
No significant association of calcium or vitamin D with risk of hip fracture compared with placebo or no treatment.
No significant association of combined calcium and vitamin D with hip fracture compared with placebo or no treatment.
No significant associations between calcium, vitamin D, or combined calcium and vitamin D supplements and the incidence of nonvertebral, vertebral, or total fractures.
They concluded that the use of supplements of calcium, vitamin D, or both was not associated with a lower risk of fractures among older adults. These findings are the opposite of what practitioners of all persuasions have been telling people to do to prevent fractures!
The Natural Medicine Journal noted that recent reports suggest high doses of vitamin D increase the risk of falls in the elderly. Because of this risk a warning was published in the Nat Rev Endocrinol, Nov 2016 that vitamin D daily doses should not exceed 3,000 IU and serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D should not exceed 40-45 ng/mL in elderly individuals. I’ve recommended staying below 2,000 IU of Vit D per day and accepting 40 ng/mL as an effective level of 25-OH-D.
Even worse than Vit D and calcium not preventing fractures was the finding that the hip fracture risk tended to increase with calcium or vitamin D supplementation. The naturopath who wrote the Natural Medicine Journal article reminded readers that naturopaths do recommend vitamin K2 and strontium citrate in addition to the calcium and vitamin D. But he didn’t even mention magnesium!
Here is an excerpt from The Magnesium Miracle (2017):
Susan Brown, Ph.D., director of the Osteoporosis Education Project in Syracuse, New York, warns that “the use of calcium supplementation in the face of magnesium deficiency can lead to a deposition of calcium in the soft tissue such as the joints, promoting arthritis, or in the kidney, contributing to kidney stones.”[i] Dr. Brown recommends a daily dose of only 450 mg of magnesium for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Women with osteoporosis have lower-than-average levels of magnesium in their diets, according to survey reports. Magnesium deficiency can compromise calcium metabolism and also hinder the body’s production of vitamin D, further weakening bones.
The following shows magnesium’s multifactorial role in bone health:
*Adequate levels of magnesium are essential for the absorption and metabolism of calcium.
*Magnesium stimulates a particular hormone, calcitonin, that helps to preserve bone structure and draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into the bones, preventing some forms of arthritis and kidney stones.
*Magnesium suppresses another bone hormone called parathyroid, preventing it from breaking down bone.
*Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form so that it can help calcium absorption.
*Magnesium is required to activate an enzyme that is necessary to form new bone.
*Magnesium regulates active calcium transport.
*It is also important to mention that vitamin K2 plays an important role is helping direct calcium to the bones where it belongs.
With all these roles for magnesium to play, it is no wonder that even a mild deficiency can be a risk factor for osteoporosis. Furthermore, if there is too much calcium in the body, especially from calcium supplementation, magnesium absorption can be greatly impaired, resulting in worsening osteoporosis and the likelihood of kidney stones, arthritis, and heart disease as well as gall stones, heel spurs, and breast tissue calcification.
Most people, including MDs, do not understand the importance of balancing calcium and magnesium at the cellular level. Calcium cannot build bones or prevent osteoporosis without adequate levels of magnesium. It’s as simple as that. If our bones are made entirely from calcium, they become brittle and can shatter, just like a stick of calcium carbonate chalk falling on the sidewalk. However, with the right percentage of magnesium, bone has the proper density and matrix that actually makes it flexible and more resistant to shattering. I’m afraid many elderly people are suffering bone fractures because they have too much calcium and not enough magnesium.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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