Building Strong Bones

Let’s get rid of one myth before we start: If additional calcium from food and supplements were the answer to bone diseases like osteoporosis then we would have eliminated this disease. This series will look at bones and bone density and see if we can create some lifestyle suggestions that, if followed, could positively impact bone health.

Bone is made of a hard shell of compact bone and an inner matrix of spongy (trabecular) bone. Losses of both can lead to osteoporosis, which can lead to broken bones. Type 1 osteoporosis affects mostly women and is characterised by rapid postmenopausal bone loss. Type 2 affects women and men at and is characterised by a more gradual loss of bone mass with resulting ‘shrinking’ of the spine and in some people the spinal collapse can result people becoming 10 cm + shorter as they age.

Osteoporosis is one of the most prevalent diseases in the NZ today but there is much debate over the best course of treatment. The old school believes you can lick osteoporosis by drinking lots of cow’s milk. Some Nutritionists say that you can beat bone loss with a varied high calcium diet and exercise regime while the medical approach is normally based around drugs such as bisphosphonates.
In the past, people with reduced bone density were given high dose calcium supplements. This has been largely discontinued because high calcium supplementation has been found to cause heart problems.

Bone is best

My view is that the best ‘supplement’ for our bones is having food and supplements that include natural bone. The best dietary source are tinned sardines, herring, and salmon as they are cooked with the bones. These are rich in minerals that are needed for bone formation.

Waitaki Biosciences in Christchurch produce what many think is the best natural bone extract for supplements. They use NZ grass fed beef bones and create an extract called MCH-Cal (microcrystalline hydroxyapatite calcium). This is the actual form of minerals in our bone. MCH-Cal is a lot more than calcium. In its hydroxyapatite form it is the actual constituent of bone. Additionally, this contains bone proteins and growth factors in a form that has high absorption.

Abundant Health Bone Plus combines MCH-Cal with Vitamins D and K for bone mineralisation. Vitamin K increases bone forming cells (osteoblast) while reducing bone reducing cells (osteoclasts). Vitamin D is needed for bone mineralisation by increasing osteoblasts and reducing osteoclasts. We then add additional Magnesium as this is needed for bone formation.

When starting Bone Plus I often recommend a double dose of 2 twice daily to rapidly lift the pool of bone building minerals and growth factors. The normal dose is 2 daily taken before bed.

John Arts (B.Soc.Sci, Dip Tch, Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.) is a nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health. If you have questions or need help you can contact John 0800 423559.  You can email John at

Please note that the health advice given through this column is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problem. © John Arts 2023

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