It has been a mystery in the United States for years. With our high consumption of diary products, why is it that we still have an incredibly high incidence of osteoporosis? Scientists in Asia, where both osteoporosis and diary consumption have historically been quite low, may have found a major clue.
It turns out that the calcium we consume through milk and supplements is not always absorbed or used to build bone. In fact, without a healthy probiotic population in the gut and the presence of other bone-building co-factors like Vitamins D and K2, magnesium, zinc, and essential fatty acids, calcium can pass right through the body undigested. Even worse, excess calcium turns into unhealthy deposits in the soft tissues and arteries. Turns out, parents bargaining with their kids to get them to drink large amounts of milk may not have always been in the child’s best interest.
However, this does not mean that we should stop consuming calcium all together, because there are many benefits to having healthy levels of calcium in the body. There are simple dietary adjustments that can alter the body’s internal chemistry in favor of building strong bones. Recent research done exclusively on Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® found that when women ages 48 and older took this probiotic supplement for at least eight weeks, their bone density was 36% higher when compared to those who didn’t take the supplement.
“Scientists suspect that probiotics help the body properly digest calcium,” said William Schoor, Vice President of Essential Formulas, the US distributor of the probiotic supplement used in the study. “The friendly bacteria also manufacture some of the vitamin co-factors needed for bone-building including B6, B12, K, and folic acid.”
It’s a surprising side benefit of probiotics, which are frequently touted for supporting digestive health and immune response. Derived from a fermented vegetarian blend, it is actually a whole food that contains probiotics, prebiotics (substances that feed probiotics), and organic acids. Scientists have noted that it is important to provide both probiotic and prebiotic components for the GI tract to enhance calcium uptake. Such dramatic results might not occur when using freeze-dried probiotic supplements.
In addition to probiotic and prebiotic supplementation, Dr. Natalie Engelbart, founder of Your Top Life and Alternative Health Solutions in Flower Mound, Texas, encourages women to consider increasing magnesium intake for better bone health. “Magnesium regulates calcium absorption into our bones, and ensures that calcium deposits don’t wind up in the soft tissue. The proper balance for our body is a ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium. But if you have been deficient in magnesium due to high stress, or from taking calcium rich supplements or foods, you may want to increase your magnesium intake even more.”
These dietary tips are encouraging to the 8 million American women who are diagnosed with osteoporosis and the approximately 24 million others who have a high risk of developing it. Once again, prevention is key. Not only should mature adults make sure they keep up on probiotic and vitamin supplementation for bone health, they need to pass those habits along to the next generation!