When it comes to protecting your bones, you probably think of calcium. And maybe magnesium. But preventing bone loss requires some other important nutrients too. Nutrients like strontium, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, and potassium. (By the way, notice that Boniva isn’t on this list…Stay away from osteoporosis drugs—no matter how much you “really like” Sally Field.) In fact, a new study explains just how critical a role potassium plays in bone health.
A group of British researchers reviewed 14 different studies on potassium’s effects on bone health. They found that potassium helps strengthen bones by slowing a process called bone resorption. This process involves the breakdown of the minerals that make up bones (like calcium and magnesium). Those minerals then get released into the blood. And, as a result, your bones get weaker and weaker—putting you at much greater risk of fractures.
So how, exactly, does potassium help?
Well, potassium is an alkaline mineral. And, as these researchers pointed out, excess acid in the body is one of the primary culprits behind bone resorption. So supplementing with potassium helps neutralize the excess acid so that it can’t attack and “eat away” at the calcium (and other minerals) in your bones.
In fact, the researchers found that potassium significantly reduced the amount of calcium and acid excreted in subjects’ urine. This finding indicates potassium reduced the amount of acid in the subjects’ bodies, which allowed them to retain more of the calcium they—and their bones—need to stay healthy.
This new research reinforces the findings of another study I told you about a couple of years ago. In that study, men and women taking potassium citrate daily significantly increased their bone mineral density (BMD) in as little as two years.
Given this evidence, I recommend taking 99 mg of potassium citrate per day (if your multivitamin doesn’t already contain it). And don’t forget about the other important bone-health minerals, too. I recommend 600 mg of calcium, 125 mg of magnesium taurate, 500 mg strontium, and at least 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day, as well as 45 mcg of vitamin K2 twice per day.
But supplements aren’t the only way to neutralize the acid attacking your bones. Your diet also plays a big part in restoring your body’s acid/base balance (also known as your pH balance). And, no surprise, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is packed with acid-generating foods like refined flour, sugar, and caffeine. Fresh fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are typically more alkaline.
For a full discussion of the benefits of an alkaline diet beyond bone health (along with a handy “cheat sheet” outlining which foods to eat—and which ones not to), check out the article, “A shocking truth about ‘getting older’ the medical industry doesn’t want you to know,” in the July 2013 issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. Subscribers can access this issue—and the complete archive—logging in to the Subscriber area of the website. (And if you’re not already a subscriber, the website also has all the details you need to sign up today.)
In the meantime, if you haven’t had your bone health evaluated lately, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about getting it done. But there’s a better test than the traditional Bone Mineral Density or DEXA scan. It’s called NTX or N-telo peptide, and it’s the one the researchers in this study used. It measures NTX, which is a specific marker of bone resorption.
The NTX is a simple urine test, so it offers an easy way to keep tabs on your bone health regularly. Unfortunately, many conventional physicians aren’t aware of it, so you should ask your doctor for it specifically. If he or she doesn’t offer it or won’t order it for you, it may be worth finding one who will.
“The effect of supplementation with alkaline potassium salts on bone metabolism: a meta-analysis.” Osteoporosis International, epub ahead of print 1/9/15