By Dr. Maoshing Ni, author of Second Spring
The trace mineral connection to strong bones
Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D get all the credit for maintaining good bone health, while trace minerals essential to bone formation like boron, manganese, copper, zinc and vitamin K are often overlooked. These trace minerals act as cofactors in the bone-building process. For instance, the trace element boron positively affects the metabolism of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and vitamin D in bone formation. Studies show that supplementation with boron reduced the loss of calcium in the urine. Boron is found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds. Vitamin K, on the other hand, found in leafy green vegetables, has been shown to be essential for specific proteins that are building blocks of bones. These are called trace minerals because very minute amounts of them are needed, so the supplemental dosage is very small.
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Second Spring: Dr. Mao's Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age
Dr. Maoshing Ni, popularly known as Dr. Mao, is a 38th-generation doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and an authority in anti-aging medicine. At the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Calif., Dr. Mao and his associates have treated more than 25,000 women. Known on "Sex and the City" as “Dr. Wow,” Dr. Mao lectures internationally and has been featured on radio and television as well as on the pages of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and many other publications. He is the author of Second Spring: Dr. Mao's Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age (text copyright © 2009 by Dr. Maoshing Ni).
Sunbathe early and late—not in between
Throughout history, Chinese women have sunbathed indoors through thin rice paper screens that filter out damaging UV-A rays but admit beneficial UV-Bs. Outdoors, the women used parasols to shield their skin from the penetrating rays of the sun.
Chinese tradition has always understood that sunlight is a double-edged sword. Sun is necessary for your body to produce vitamin D, essential for bone health, proper immune function and resistance to cancer.
In the West, heliotherapy is used to speed recovery from illness and treat conditions ranging from rickets to tuberculosis. But it is crucial to avoid overexposure, which can lead to premature skin aging and even cancer.
Taking calcium supplements: how to do it right
To avoid the stooped posture and broken bones of osteoporosis, act while you are still in your prime. Get regular weight-bearing exercise—that’s smart for good health in general. But also, beginning at age 35, take proper calcium supplementation.
It’s not quite as easy as popping a pill, so follow these guidelines. Make sure you take calcium carbonate, the easiest type to absorb, because many forms are not really bio-available. It must also be formulated with magnesium, preferably 1,200 mg of calcium to 600 mg of magnesium, and you will need trace amounts of boron, copper, zinc and vitamin B3 (often included in your daily multivitamin/mineral pill). Liquid calcium in a citrate base is an excellent choice, easy to add to juice drinks or power shakes. Remember to take your calcium in several doses throughout the day, as the body cannot absorb it all at once.
Soft drinks are hard on your health
It may be satisfying to down a soft drink on a hot day—you may even feel “safe” because you’re drinking the diet kind, avoiding calories so you won’t put on weight. But calories aren’t the only drawback in colas and other carbonated beverages—they can deplete the calcium in your bones, because they contain phosphoric acid, which makes calcium pass out of your system in the urine.
Now more than ever, when you are at increased risk of osteoporosis, you want to avoid soft drinks. If you crave a bubbly refreshment, drink carbonated mineral water and add a slice of lemon!
Approximately 50 percent of American women will be afflicted with osteoporosis in their lives. One out of four women has osteopenia, a stage of bone loss before true osteoporosis sets in. Dr. Maoshing Ni, author of Second Spring, provides the following six ways to nurture your bones and ward off bone loss:
Most dairy products that come from cows, such as milk and cheese, have nutritional elements that you want: calcium and protein. But when you consume cow’s milk and its derivatives, there’s a catch. The high protein content in dairy items acidifies the blood, causing the body to draw calcium from the bones to balance it out. The net effect of this is to leach more calcium from the body than you gain.
Additionally, the protein molecules in milk are larger than the molecules a human digestive system is meant to handle, so the immune system may reject them as foreign, or allergenic. That’s why many people experience fatigue, lowered ability to concentrate, and overproduction of mucus when they eat dairy. Some people lack enzymes, such as lactase, to properly digest dairy sugar; for them, consumption of dairy causes stomach pain, gas and diarrhea. For the best protection against osteoporosis, take advantage of the absorbable calcium found in leafy greens, beans and seeds.
Orange juice does a body good
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health. While the calcium is necessary to build and maintain bone, vitamin D is needed because the body cannot absorb calcium without it. Cow’s milk has traditionally been credited as the best food for strong bones, but new studies show that your body is able to absorb both calcium and vitamin D from orange juice as readily as from milk, if not more so. (Because citrus juice’s acetic acid can erode teeth enamel, don’t brush your teeth for an hour after drinking juice.)
Another bonus: Orange juice is full of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that also helps facilitate calcium absorption into the body, a double benefit. So enjoy the fresh nectar of the citrus fruit while you bulk up your bones.