You’ve heard this statement all your life. “Drink your milk; it will build strong bones.” It turns out that isn’t completely true. I suspect the dairy industry would like us to believe that if you don’t drink eight glasses of milk each day that your bones will crumble to dust. Unfortunately, some of what we have been led to believe may simply be great marketing of dairy products.
What is actually true is that milk does contain calcium, but calcium alone does not build strong bones. Building bone is a process the body does quite well for most of our lives.
The Osteoporosis Myth
In the book, The Myth of Osteoporosis by Gillian Sanson, she found that “Osteoporosis is a rare, geriatric disorder”. In other words, it does not occur in young women and occurs only rarely in older women. Why, then, are so many women screened for osteoporosis at younger ages?
The standard is that screening should not begin until age 50 yet I see women who have been screened in their 30’s.
I remember the first time I learned about the osteoporosis screening devices for bone density. Coincidentally they came out exactly when a new drug to treat osteoporosis was released as a prescription. It made me a bit suspicious at the time and it still does.
According to Ms. Sanson’s research, bone density devices are not standardized. This means you could get one result in one office and another result in another office 5 minutes later. According to the medical literature, bone density testing does not actually predict if you will break bones in the future.
If that is all true, I suspect many women have been prescribed medication for osteoporosis that didn’t really need it. It is important to understand what the medications actually do. They will make your bones appear harder on X-ray. However, the medications do not actually build new bone. They simply harden the old bone that you have.
Calcium deficiency is actually extremely rare. A simple blood test will tell you if you are low in calcium. Even if you don’t have dairy in your diet, there are other foods that have plenty of calcium in them.
A little calcium goes a long way. New studies are finding that menopausal women who took more than 500mg of calcium per day as a supplement were at higher risk for heart attacks than those who limited calcium intake to 500mg or less. Another study found that the countries with the highest calcium intake actually had the earliest deaths.
You see, calcium blocks the uptake of magnesium and magnesium is needed in over 350 biochemical processes. Magnesium can help lower blood pressure, prevent heart attacks and arrhythmias, as well as help treat and prevent depression and anxiety. Magnesium is also good for migraines, reflux, constipation, menstrual cramps, focus, concentration and muscle spasms.
At The Block Center, we often find that people are so low in magnesium that we have to give them injections to build them up. Most don’t mind and actually are eager to get their shots because they feel so much better. Having strong bones as we age is important. Using magnesium, progesterone and weight bearing exercise is what I have found helps it the most.
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