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Boning Up on Calcium: Supplements for Bone Health

Popping calcium for better bone health? Get the most from that supplement with these tips.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Supplements for Bone Health?

Of course, lots of other supplements are hawked as bone strength boosters for people battling osteoporosis. But do they work?

"On the whole, there's just not a lot of good data on other supplements for bone health," says Amin.

So far, the evidence isn't persuasive. While other minerals play a role in absorbing calcium, like magnesium and phosphorus, deficiencies are quite rare. So you probably don't need to worry about them.

Schousboe is skeptical of other alternative bone-strengthening supplements, like cod liver oil. "There's no real evidence that the oils are important themselves," he tells WebMD. "The oil just contains vitamin D, and I think there are better ways to get it." While some phytoestrogens (plant compounds that have estrogen-like effects) -- found in soy, flaxseed, and other plants -- have shown some benefit in studies of bone health, their risks aren't clear yet.

"Given the association between estrogen compounds and blood clots," says Schousboe, "I think we need to be very careful and wait for convincing data about phytoestrogens."

For good bone health, go with the basics, say osteoporosis experts.

"I usually just recommend that people stick to getting adequate calcium and vitamin D and eating a good, healthy diet," Amin tells WebMD. That simple advice can go a long way toward keeping your bones strong and your life healthy and active.

Reviewed on August 01, 2007
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Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

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