If you believe that bones are made of calcium, you have subscribed to The Calcium Lie. You're not alone. Most consumers and, surprisingly, most doctors, believe that bones are made of calcium. In this article, we show you that it takes at least 18 other nutrients to build strong bones in addition to calcium (Ca):
||Without enough of it, the body cannot efficiently use Ca, Mg, and Vitamin D to make strong bone
||Necessary for collagen formation and bone mineralization
||Helps harden the minerals in bones and teeth
||Without it, vitamin D can't move calcium into bone. Also, as Dr. Oz says, it’s important to take Ca and Mg together since calcium alone can cause constipation, whereas magnesium will prevent this side effect.
||Necessary for both collagen formation and bone mineralization
||For strong bones, calcium must combine with phosphorus
||Body needs potassium to maintain proper pH levels in body fluids, and optimize sodium to potassium ratio which also affects bone mass[1,13].
||Necessary for crystallization of calcium
||Helps build the collagen framework for bone
||Bone-building osteoblasts cannot develop properly without it
||Necessary for the formation of bone collagen
||Without enough of it, bones are weak
||Osteoblasts cannot build bone without it
- Necessary for incorporation of Ca and phosporus into bone.
- If you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2.
- Because when you take vitamin D, your body creates more vitamin K2-dependent proteins—the proteins that help move the calcium around in your body. But you need vitamin K2 to activate those proteins. If they're not activated, the calcium in your body will not be properly distributed and can lead to weaker bones and hardened arteries.
- Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is made by the bacteria that line your gastrointestinal tract.
- Crucial to incorporation of mineral crystals into the collagen matrix.
||Helps prevent bone demineralization
|Essential fatty acids
||Necessary for a healthy collagen matrix and for normal bone mineralization
||A modest amount of protein is a key component of bone's collagen matrix.
These 18 nutrients are not only necessary for strong bones but also must be consumed in the proper proportions. For example, without enough vitamin A, bones cannot develop normally. But too much increases fracture risk. If you wonder how to get enough of these nutrients,  suggests eating enough fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes every day. These plant foods contain all the nutrients essential for strong bones, except vitamin B12 which you can obtain it from supplements, fortified cereals, milk, cheese, eggs, salmon, sardines, or beef. However, you don't need much vitamin B12. One or two servings of animal foods per month is sufficient.
Different from conventional wisdom, consuming large amounts of milk, dairy foods, or calcium supplements daily doesn't prevent fractures (read  for possible health risks of calcium supplements). Based on researches published in 1985, 1992, 2000, and 2006, it shows that countries that consume the most milk, dairy foods, and calcium supplements suffer the most bone fractures[1,11]. In addition, there are total 86 scientific studies surveyed by  to answer this question:
The survey shows that:
- Do milk, dairy foods, and calcium supplements, by themselves or combined, reduce the risk of fractures?
As early as 1968, an article in The Lancet  suggested that the conventional wisdom was not the answer—but that something else was. Low-acid eating.
- 24 studies showing they do
- 15 studies showing inconclusive results
- 47 studies showing that milk and dairy foods do not reduce risk of fractures.
Today many researchers consider low-acid eating and daily exercise[1,3,23] the best, most cost-effective way to strengthen bone and reduce fractures. Blood is slightly alkaline. Its normal pH varies from 7.35 to 7.45. If the blood's pH falls below 7.35 or rises above 7.45, the body cannot function properly. As a result, the body's expends considerable energy to regulate the blood's pH within its normal range. When the blood's pH falls below normal, the body must restore it immediately. It does this by pulling calcium compounds from bone into the blood to neutralize excess acids.
What makes the blood acidic? Predominantly
protein. As the amount of protein in the diet increases, so does the amount of calcium excreted in urine. This is scientifically well established. In addition to pulling calcium out of blood, the kidneys process excess amino acids into ammonia, which is acidic and toxic to the central nervous systems. The liver quickly converts ammonia into urea, also acidic, and incorporates it into urine, increasing urinary acidity.
Some foods acidify the urine considerably more than others. Compared with fruits and vegetables, animal foods—red meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy items—introduce much more acid into urine and, therefore, into blood, causing greater loss of calcium compounds from bone. Note that grains, breads, and pastas also acidify the urine and blood, but less than most animal foods.
Here is a list of foods that leave behind acids (acid-forming), those that are buffers (that will balance either side), and those that leave bases (alkalizing) once they are metabolized
| Acid-Forming Foods
| Alkalizing Foods
|| Green vegetables
|| Tofu (if made with calcium carbonate
| Green beans
|| Potatoes (because they contain solanine, an alkaloid)
|| Seaweeds (sea vegetables)
| Whole Grains
|| Soy sauce
Our goal is to eat from both the acid-forming and the alkalizing groups. The body demands balance. Eating too high a proportion of acid-forming foods will draw minerals out of the teeth and bones, whereas eating a high proportion of alkalizing foods often tends to create cravings for sweets or carbohydrates, as many vegetarians will attest to, in order to bring in some counterbalancing acid-forming foods.
Dr. Anthony Sebastian led the research team at UCSF that published the 2000 survey of worldwide fracture rates. His team concluded:
"The high incidence of hip fracture in industrialized countries is caused by the cumulative effects on bone of the body's chronic high net acid load. This high net acid load, in turn, is the result of disproportionate consumption of animal (acid) foods relative to vegetable (alkaline) foods. Otherwise healthy individuals who eat net acid-producing diets are in a chronic state of low-grade metabolic acidosis [acidic blood and urine]. The body adapts through dissolution of bone. Over decades, the magnitude of a daily positive acid balance [that is, chronically acidic blood and urine] may be sufficient to induce osteoporosis. Moderation of animal food consumption and an increased ratio of vegetable-to-animal food consumption may confer a fracture-protective effect."
Dr. Annemarie Colbin recommends the following best foods for strong bones:
Dr. Chu (朱文骏) recommends the following natural foods:
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens, and also roots and stalks (for the iron and calcium, and for vitamins K and C, which together with protein, help deposit the collagen matrix)
- Protein in modest amount, such as animal foods, beans, and soy foods (for the collagen matrix)
- Stock (for the minerals)
- Whole grains (for the magnesium)
- Foods rich in trace minerals, such as seaweeds, nuts, and seeds
- Edible bones (for the calcium and other minerals)
- Healthy fats (for the fat-soluble vitamins needed for the bones, such as vitamins K and D)
- Cloud Ear Fungus or Black Fungus (黑木耳)
- Seaweeds (see  for its consumption recommendation)
- Pueraria Root (葛根)
- Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and beans
Dr. Mercola recommends the following foods to prevent bone loss:
Specially Fermented Vegetables (for Vitamin K2)
- The fennel appeared to work by reducing osteoclast differentiation and function, thereby slightly decreasing bone turnover markers and offering a protective effect on the bones.
Certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda
- Certain fermented foods such as natto, or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria.
- However, most yogurts have almost no vitamin K2
- These two are particularly high in K2, containing about 75 mcg per ounce.
- Good sources of silica are cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and a number of herbs including horsetail, nettles, oat straw, and alfalfa.
- Building Bone Vitablity by Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D. and Michael Castleman.
- Diet and osteoporosis by Wachman A and Bernstein DS. Lancet. 1968 May 4;1(7549):958-9.
- The Best Exercises for Healthy Bones
- The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.
- Acid-Alkaline Balance