I am nearing completion of a revised and updated version of my book on prevention and reversal of osteoporosis, and a few things have struck me regarding how little the general public really seems to know about this disease. For example, we absolutely cannot rely on just calcium for bone health; indeed, I haven’t even included calcium in this list of minerals that we need to fight osteoporosis. There are ten essentials for bone health which are elaborated on in the book, and a chapter on minerals is just one of these ten. Here are the other minerals which you might have overlooked if you’ve only focused on calcium:
Magnesium is of particular relevance in bone strength and prevention of osteoporosis, and 50% of the body’s magnesium is found in the bones. Appropriate levels of magnesium are essential for adequate calcification of bone. Magnesium deficiency causes calcium crystals in the bone to have an abnormal shape, which negatively affects the resultant strength of the bone. Ignore magnesium at your peril! The best sources are dark green leafy vegetables and wheatgrass juice.
Manganese works as a cofactor for several enzymes responsible for bone formation. It also stimulates the production of mucopolysaccharides in bone tissue, providing a structure upon which bone mineralisation can take place. Impaired mucopolysaccharide formation as a result of manganese deficiency hinders the process of calcification, and as a result, remodelling, repair and formation of bone. Environmental pollution interferes with manganese assimilation.
Boron is at least as important as calcium when it comes to bone strength and preventing osteoporosis. Diets low in boron increase urinary excretion of both calcium and magnesium, a double whammy in favour of bone loss. Increasing boron intake reverses this urinary excretion and boosts levels of 17-beta oestradiol and testosterone, two important hormones for bone health. Boron is widely distributed in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. A diet based on meat, eggs, dairy and cooked carbohydrates at the expense of fruits and vegetables is highly deficient in this important nutrient. Green leaves, almonds, hazelnuts and apples are your best sources.
Better known as a mineral with benefits for men in relation to prostate health, zinc is found to be at low levels in the blood and bones of elderly people with osteoporosis. Zinc enhances the biochemical actions of vitamin D, and due to its role in DNA and protein synthesis, zinc is required for the formation of bone building cells (osteoblasts) and formation of proteins found in bone tissue. Zinc also inhibits osteoclastic bone resorption (osteoclasts are the cells that break down old worn out bone). Soaked pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc.
I’m not talking about strontium 90 here – that’s radioactive and not the sort of thing you want in your body; I’m talking about the “safe” isotope of strontium. Strontium lies directly below calcium in group 2 of the periodic table, and shares many of its properties, so it’s hardly surprising that it might play a role in bone strength. It has been demonstrated that strontium migrates to areas of bone where active remodelling is taking place, and rodent studies have shown that supplemental strontium led to increased bone density and formation. Small scale studies have been performed on humans using isolated strontium with encouraging results in both osteoporosis reversal and metastatic bone cancer. Green leaves and sprouted grains are the best sources of this interesting mineral.
Copper is found in 13 enzyme systems, in particular those involved in forming strong bonds (cross-links). Severe copper deficiency in growing children is known to cause bone abnormalities, so it is presumed that copper deficiency might be linked to osteoporosis. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that by eating and juicing your greens, and taking wheatgrass juice, your copper levels will be sufficiently high to avoid putting yourself at risk. Sesame seeds and chick peas, staples on a good quality plant-based diet, are rich sources of this mineral.
There is a growing body of the scientific literature which recognizes that silicon plays an essential role in bone formation and maintenance. Silicon improves bone matrix quality and facilitates bone mineralisation. Increased intake of bioavailable silicon has been associated with increased bone mineral density, and silicon supplementation in both animals and humans has been shown to increase bone mineral density and improve bone strength. Interestingly, populations with the highest dietary intake of silicon (such as groups studied in India and China) have the lowest incidence of osteoporotic fractures. Conversely, those with the highest intake of dairy products have the highest level of osteoporotic fractures.
The plant with the highest concentration of silicon is the horsetail (Equisetum). In addition to horsetail, other good sources of silicon are cabbage, apples and whole grains. I recommend to always use soaked and sprouted grains for the best bioavailability of nutrients.
Germanium has been shown to be valuable in increasing bone strength and reducing elevated levels of parathyroid hormone. It also helps with the detoxification of heavy metal elements that are known to be detrimental to bone strength, such as lead, cadmium and tin. Additionally it leads to oxygen enrichment of the tissues, which is important in its own right. Garlic contains good levels of germanium.
So there you have it – 8 other essential minerals that your bones are craving; all of which can be found in abundance in a plant-based diet that focuses on green leaves and wheatgrass juice. Feed them properly and they’ll support you forever. And if you can’t wait for the new improved and updated book, remember that the original version can still be purchased here.