The Bone Matrix

In my years of clinic practice, osteoporosis is very much a consistent presenting problem. Bones are made up of a matrix primarily being of collagen and other proteins along with minerals including magnesium, calcium, manganese, silica and phosphorus. Peak bone density is reached in the late teens early twenties, so early growth and development cusped with nutritional status will set the scene for many years onwards… Osteoclasts and osteoblasts are instrumental in controlling the amount of bone tissue: osteoblasts form bone, osteoclasts resorb (break down) bone...

The Silent Disease?

1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men over 60 years will have an osteoporotic fracture in Australia.

Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose their mineral matrix more rapidly than the body can replace it. As a result, bones become thinner and less dense, so that even a minor bump or accident can cause serious fractures. These are known as fragility or minimal trauma fractures. The most common sites are bones in the hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper arm. Osteoporosis usually has no signs or symptoms until a fracture happens – this is why osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent disease’. Every 8 minutes, someone is admitted to an Australian hospital with an osteoporotic fracture. This is expected to rise to every 3 – 4 minutes by the year 2021. About 50% of people with one fracture due to osteoporosis will have another.  Two thirds of fractures of the spine are not identified or treated, even though they nearly all cause pain and some disability…

Calcium or Magnesium?

The mantra of “milk equals calcium equals bones” is great marketing but has little relevance to bone density. If bones lack calcium it is an ailment termed “osteomalacia”, which is a softening of the bones. There are no studies showing calcium supplementation can increase bone density, it may prevent further loss to a degree, however there are studies citing that magnesium supplementation can actually increase bone density! Largely the medical push for calcium is via the supplement “Caltrate” – a 600 mg tablet of calcium carbonate – which is chalk. The problem with this high chalk intake is that it competes with and displaces magnesium…

Research reveals around 40% of post menopausal women are severely deficient in stomach acid. Patients with low stomach acid absorb about 4% of an oral dose of calcium carbonate. Whereas these same patients absorb around 45% of calcium citrate.  Thus new patients taking Caltrate have been asked to cease intake and are by and large prescribed Magnesium. Further on they are then prescribed a good bone food supplement called Calcitite High Strength which is made up of crushed cow bone and with added boron which has been found very useful for bone density. Medically, the drug Fosamax slows down the action of “osteoclasts” therefore slowing down bone turnover. Fosamax seems to work quite well with little seen side effects…

Other Factors contributing to Osteoporosis development and treatment

Oestrogens play a role in bone density along with vitamin D especially for the infirmed. However, we have enough sunshine in this country to ensure adequate vitamin D production, around 10 minutes per day average on the hands and face appears to be plenty. In fact Vitamin D from the skin is then dependant upon magnesium to be metabolised into its active form. Corticosteroids over extended periods certainly cause more bother than good as do refined sugars and phosphoric acid from carbonated drinks as they cause increased calcium excretion through the kidneys. Low folate, B12 and B6 levels have been found to increase inflammatory lines causing decreased collagen cross linking therefore leading to defective bone matrix…Other inflammatory mediators such as elevated cortisol from constant daily stresses  increase osteoclast (bone break down ) activity, further modulating bone loss …


Many studies confirm a diet high in calcium is highly desirable for the prevention of osteoporosis. The studies don’t seem geared towards the recognition that high calcium foods will also deliver many other necessary minerals such as the magnesiums, manganese and phosphates etc, just the calcium = bones theory. Even so foods for the bones are almonds, broccoli, fish, oats, cabbage, green beans, oranges, celery, sweet potatoe, lentils, nuts along with rosehip and green tea. High mineral diets are associated with low stone formation of either gall or kidney stones. Vitamin K from green leafy vegetables is necessary for other protein structures within the bone. Boron has also come into vogue in recent times for bone health, thought to reduce calcium secretion by around 44%, increase correct oestrogen production and plays a role in vitamin D activation. Notably B6, B12, folate, vitamin D3 and boron are all in the multivitamin SF88 that I recommend to everyone and this is just another great example of why it is recommended to be taken daily for as long as you want to thrive…

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