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What are calcium and bone support supplements?

Most people know that calcium supplements support bone health. In fact, some people with osteoporosis have been advised to take 1500 mg or more of calcium daily. However, our bones may not be able to absorb so much calcium and some scientists believe that excess calcium can be deposited in the wrong places in the body, and at the very least can be constipating.

In addition to the dose, the form of calcium is another factor in absorption. Calcium carbonate is low in cost because it is usually derived from chalk, rock or shells. Although it is 40% calcium, it’s hard for the body to absorb—especially on an empty stomach. A more absorbent form is calcium citrate, even on an empty stomach. One of our favorite natural health researchers, Dr. Michael Murray, N.D. prefers the tricalcium phosphate form of calcium, up to 1000 mg per day.

How can we improve bone health?

Surprise! Bone is not just tubes of calcium like sticks of chalk. Bone is a porous, living, matrix of calcium/mineral structures cemented together with a proteinaceous collagen glue. For this reason, calcium supplementation by itself is not optimal for keeping bones strong and healthy throughout life. Dr. Murray outlines lifestyle habits and other nutritional supplements that contribute to bone health. (Read his detailed article on osteoporosis.) The products included in our Top 5 recommendations follow the latest research on optimal supplementation for bone health support including:

  • • Complementary minerals including magnesium and boron
  • • BioSil®, a special bioavailable silica product
  • • Critical co-nutrients including Vitamin D, Vitamin K2 and other nutrients that support bone health

Read Dr. Murray's article: Osteoporosis

Lead Caveat

“I’ll have a side of lead with my calcium.” Dr. Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM of Nutritionfacts.org chronicled the unfortunate saga of lead contamination in calcium supplements that was all too common in the last century. (Watch the video, "Lead in Calcium Supplements") If you follow the references and read the studies, you may agree with the conclusion of Drs. Murray and Pizzorno in their 2012 edition of "The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" page 111, to avoid calcium supplements made from “dolemite, bonemeal and oyster shells”, because they are known to have potentially high levels of lead contamination. Ultimately, always choose a well-known manufacturer who substantiates purity claims with consistent and ongoing testing for contaminants, such as sophisticated mass spectrometry. Such testing results should be available for consumers to view or is certified by a third-party certifier, such as Isura.

How We Choose Our Top 5 Supplements (View our Site Disclaimer)

We recommend any of the five products listed below equally and so present our choices in alphabetical order by brand. We do not receive any compensation in exchange for our recommendations. Read more about how we make our selections.

Doctor's Best Calcium Bone Maker Complex with MCH Cal

Doctor's Best® Calcium Bone Maker® Complex with MCH-Cal

This calcium complex provides key bone nutrients in their most bioactive forms. Includes Vitamin C and Vitamin D3 to help support the absorption of calcium in the bone, while vitamin K2 helps direct the calcium to the bones.

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Doctor's Best Calcium Bone Maker® Complex provides key bone nutrients in their most bioactive forms. Along with vitamin C, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2, this formula contains MCH-Cal, a bovine bone extract from pristine New Zealand free range, pasture fed and BSE free cattle. See Learn More–References tab for more information.

MCH-Cal is carefully processed from bovine bone raised in New Zealand. It contains many nutrients to build healthy bone. “Waitaki Biosciences MCH-Cal is manufactured only from safe, natural raw material sources—New Zealand free range, pasture fed and BSE free cattle. Published scientific research on whole bone microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MCHA), demonstrates its effectiveness at slowing loss of bone mineral density in post-menopausal women, improving symptoms of bone pain in those with osteoporosis and slowing the progression of osteoporosis. Research has also shown that it works well as a complementary therapy to drug treatments such as raloxifene and estradiol. (Pelayo 2008, Castelo-Branco 1999, Pines 1984) Supplementing with whole bone MCHA was found to be more effective at improving loss of bone mineral density than the equivalent dose of calcium carbonate or calcium gluconate in several studies. (Ruegsegger 1995, Annefeld 1986, Epstein 1982) It is important to note that this research does not apply to bone meal products, or synthetic hydroxyapatites, where the protein is either totally absent, or largely destroyed by excessive heat or other harsh treatments. Waitaki’s own independent research includes an animal model of post menopausal bone loss. Using this model, daily supplementation with MCH-Cal over a six month period was shown to reduce loss of bone mineral density compared to control animals receiving a standard diet. Bone density measurements improved across lumbar spine and femur bone sites in ovariectomised rats. Improvements were seen at both 13 and 26 week assessments by DEXA scanning.” https://www.waitakibio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/MCH-Cal-Product-Brochure.pdf

Life Extension Bone Restore with Vitamin K2

Life Extension® Bone Restore with Vitamin K2

This proprietary, comprehensive mineral formula provides 700 mg of highly absorbable elemental calcium from three different forms, along with critical co-nutrients for bone health support.

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Life Extension® Bone Restore uses three types of easily absorbed calcium: dicalcium malate, calcium fructoborate and calcium bisglycinate chelate for better absorption. It includes key nutrients for better bone health such as vitamin D, boron and vitamin K2.

Some forms of calcium supplements are better absorbed than others. Bone Restore with Vitamin K2 provides a total of 700 mg of three types of easily absorbed calcium: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate malate, calcium bisglycinate, all delivered in a capsule that ensures better utilization by the body.

Vitamins K2 and D3

Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. And vitamin K2 helps maintain bone density by promoting calcium transport from the bloodstream into bone. Thus, vitamins D3 and K2 are essential for helping maintain strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Magnesium, zinc and other bone-healthy minerals

Magnesium is needed to maintain strong bones. Bone Restore with Vitamin K2 contains 300 mg of magnesium from magnesium oxide. Zinc, manganese and silicon are essential for healthy bone maintenance. You have to have sufficient intake of these elements to support healthy bone formation. Boron is a trace mineral with beneficial effects for bone and joint strength. This formula contains patented Fruitex B® OsteoBoron®, made from a calcium/carbohydrate/boron complex similar to what’s found in fruits and vegetables.

Natural Factors Bone Mineralizer Matrix

Natural Factors® Bone Mineralizer Matrix

A comprehensive complex of easy to digest and absorb calcium sources with lots of extra nutrients to enhance bone metabolism.

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Since our bones are NOT made simply of calcium (like chalk) we need co-factors that the body uses to manufacture our bones. Like most products, Bone Mineralizer Matrix includes magnesium and vitamin D. However, this formula includes significant amounts of other bone-building nutrients such as: vitamin C, vitamin K2, vitamin B6, folate and L-lysine. Serving size: 3 capsules, twice daily.

Contains:

  • Vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • Vitamin K1 (as phytonadione)
  • Vitamin K2 (as MK-7/menaquinone-7)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl)
  • Folate 1360 mcg DFE (800 mcg folic acid)
  • Calcium (dicalcium malate, calcium citrate, calcium ascorbate)
  • Magnesium (dimagnesium malate, magnesium oxide)
  • L-Lysine

Natural Factors Healthy Bones Plus Kit

Natural Factors® Healthy Bones Plus® Kit

If you need maximum support for bone health, this kit contains one bottle of Bone Mineralizer Matrix® and a separate bottle of Bone Collagenizer® Ultra. A great choice.

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This kit combines The Mineralizer Matrix® providing minerals in one bottle, with a separate bottle of Bone Collagenizer® Ultra which includes the clinically proven BioSil® silicon, and extra nutrients that support the essential collagen matrix of bone composition that is essential for flexible strength in bone structures. Silica is extremely difficult for humans to assimilate, even from silicon-rich plants. Various human clinical studies have shown BioSil® (a patented product invented decades ago and made in Belgium) to be well assimilated and to demonstrate benefits in collagenous tissues dependent on silicon nutrition such as skin, hair, and bone.

Purity and authenticity of ingredients is confirmed by Isura, Non-GMO: Documentation, Mass Spec: Lab Tested

Suntheanine® L-Theanine:

Here’s a crash course on: “SILICON AND BONE HEALTH” J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Mar-Apr; 11(2): 99–110 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658806/

Citations from above regarding BioSil®: 53. Calomme MR, Cos P, D'Haese PC, Vingerhoets R, Lamberts LV, De Broe ME, Van Hoorebeke C, Vanden Berghe DA. Absorption of silicon in healthy subjects. In: Collery P, Brätter P, Negretti de Brätter V, Khassanova L, Etienne J-C, editors. Metal Ions in Biology and Medicine. Vol. 5. John Libbey Eurotext; Paris: 1998. pp. 228–232. [Google Scholar]

54. Calomme M, Geusens P, Demeester N, Behets GJ, D'Haese P, Sindambiwe JB, Van Hoof V, Vanden Berghe D. Partial prevention of long-term femoral bone loss in aged ovariectomized rats supplemented with choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid. Calcif Tissue Int. 2006;78(4):227–32. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

55. Barel A, Calomme M, Timchenko A, De Paepe K, Demeester N, Rogiers V, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe D. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Arch Dermatol Res. 2005;297(4):147–53. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

56. Spector TD, Calomme MR, Anderson S, Swaminathan R, Jugdaohsingh R, Vanden-Berge DA, Powell JJ. Effect of bone turnover and BMD of low dose oral silicon as an adjunct to calcium/vitamin D3 in a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Bone Mineral Research. 2005;20:S172. [Google Scholar]

57. Van Dyck K, Van Cauwenbergh R, Robberecht H, Deelstra H. Bioavailability of silicon from food and food supplements. Fresenius Journal of Analytical Chemistry. 1999;363:541–544. [Google Scholar]

NOW Calcium and Magnesium Citrate Powder with Vitamin D3

NOW® Calcium and Magnesium Citrate Powder with Vitamin D3

If you want a simple supplement that will easily absorb and is economical, try this powdered form of Calcium/Magnesium citrate with adequate bone building vitamin D.

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  • Vitamin D3 as Cholecalciferol 200 IU
  • Calcium from Calcium Citrate 400 mg
  • Magnesium from Magnesium Citrate 400 mg

Many older persons lack a healthy production of stomach acid to dissolve calcium supplements. Calcium citrate is in effect pre-acidified and so aids in disintegration and absorption.

PubMed article: Superior calcium absorption from calcium citrate than calcium carbonate using external forearm counting

How We Choose Our Top 5 Supplements

Ingredients with measurable efficacy: Some supplement ingredients have had decades of scientific study and thousands of published studies describing their measurable efficacy and benefits to human nutrition. But some are only recently showing up on the market and have little science to explain their properties. Since you can't buy or try everything, we recommend products with studied ingredients.

Added value/complementary nutrients: Much of the cost of supplements is in their packaging, so if a product contains several complementary ingredients for its intended benefit, then we usually recommend that product over a single ingredient product. The exception is a single ingredient product that has special recognition as superior to similar but less effective products.

Different forms (tablets, powders, etc.): Some people just hate to take pills of any kind. So, when there’s a chewable, liquid, powder or gummy option that’s effective, we may also recommend those products.

Good manufacturing practices and reputation: There has been an explosion of supplement brands in the last 10 years. Many of these brands live only online and have ownership outside of USA regulations or ownership whose identity is sometimes hard to determine. We recommend companies that have made and marketed supplements for many decades in the USA and have earned good reputations for closely following FDA, GMP, and FTC guidelines, submitting to protocols that verify purity and potency and refraining from misleading product claims.

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