A healthful diet rich in green vegetables, beans, and seeds, plus strength-building exercise forms the foundation for healthy bones. Osteo-Sun was designed to complement these healthy behaviors with essential bone-supportive micronutrients. Each capsule supplies 250 IU vegan vitamin D3 and 200 mg calcium, so 1-3 capsules can be used, depending on each person’s individual requirements.
Calcium and magnesium are structural components of bone
The minerals calcium and magnesium are important for providing structure to bone tissue. Most (over 99 percent) of the body’s calcium and more than half of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones and teeth.1 Calcium and phosphorus are part of the major structural molecule (hydroxyapatite) that makes up bone, and magnesium is present on the surface of that molecule. Calcium and magnesium are found in abundance in whole plant foods, however a small amount of supplementation may be appropriate, especially for some women, since calcium absorption decreases after menopause and some women may have a smaller appetite for greens.
Vitamin K is involved in chemical reactions that control bone formation, and the dose of K2 in Osteo-Sun complements other Vitamin K containing foods and supplements to assure optimal K2 intake without providing excess.
Vitamin D, calcium and bone health
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is made in the skin after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Vitamin D functions as a hormone because it sends a message to the intestines to increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. By promoting calcium absorption, vitamin D helps to form and maintain strong bones; when we get sufficient vitamin D, the body is able to absorb calcium efficiently. this means that Vitamin D also works in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones to promote bone mineralization. Research also suggests that vitamin D is important to maintain healthy immune and cardiovascular systems and regulate cell growth. Since vitamin D receptors are present in almost every type of cell in the human body, vitamin D is likely important for overall health and well-being, and we will learn more about the benefits of vitamin D as new research emerges.2,3
As people age, maintaining adequate vitamin D and bone mass becomes a significant concern, since the skin cannot synthesize vitamin D as efficiently and the reduction in estrogen after menopause causes an acceleration of bone breakdown and calcium loss in women.4,5
My Women’s Daily Formula +D3 multivitamin contains 2000 IU vitamin D3; in the newest formulation of Osteo-Sun, I have reduced the vitamin D so that those women taking Women’s Daily Formula +D3 (who also have adequate blood vitamin D) will be able to receive the bone-building nutrients in Osteo-Sun plus enough—but not too much—vitamin D. Recent research has suggested that 25(OH)D levels above the optimal range of 30-50 ng/ml do not provide additional benefit and could be even be detrimental to health.6-11
How much calcium should I take?
Calcium-rich greens, beans and seeds are staples of my dietary recommendations. Since menopause is accompanied by increased calcium loss, my Women’s Daily Formula +D3 multivitamin supplies 200 mg calcium as insurance for adequate intake (Men’s Daily Formula does not contain calcium, and Gentle Care and Gentle Prenatal each contain 100 mg). However, as with most micronutrients, the vast majority of the calcium in one’s diet should be provided by plant foods, not supplements.
Many women are advised to take high-dose (1000 mg or more) calcium supplements to maintain bone health. For many years, I have recommended a lower-than-typical dose of supplemental calcium (below 500-600 mg/day), because calcium is plentiful in natural foods and because high-dose calcium supplements are not superior to lower doses for bone health and have been linked to increased risk of heart attack.
There is evidence that a lower level of calcium supplementation (when combined with vitamin D) is more beneficial for bone health than high doses.12 Furthermore, calcium intake is only associated with bone density when vitamin D levels are insufficient.13 This information suggests that when we get enough vitamin D, a high dose of calcium is not necessary.
Strong evidence has suggested that high-dose (1000 mg or more) calcium supplements increase the risk of heart attack and death from all causes.14-18 In one notable study, high calcium intake from supplements was associated with a much greater risk of death than high calcium intake from foods.14
In light of this research, scientists now think the body handles supplemental calcium and food calcium differently, mostly because of the large calcium load available at one time from the supplement. Supplements cause a rapid elevation in blood calcium whereas food calcium does not; this could cause increased vascular calcification and also cause the blood to clot more easily. This may lead to the cardiovascular dangers associated with high calcium intake.
My most recent formulation of Osteo-Sun contains a smaller dose of calcium than conventional supplements, 200 mg per capsule, to replicate the gentle flow of food-derived calcium. Women can take 1-3 capsules each day depending on their calcium needs, and by splitting the dose throughout the day, it assures adequate calcium without spiking blood calcium levels. The calcium and some of the magnesium in Osteo-Sun is provided in the form of certified organic whole powdered seaweed, harvested off the West coast of Ireland and Northwest coast of Iceland.
1. Castiglioni S, Cazzaniga A, Albisetti W, et al: Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients 2013;5:3022-3033.
2. Holick MF: Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1678S-1688S.
3. Holick MF, Chen TC: Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:1080S-1086S.
4. World Health Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition. Second edn; 2004.
5. Boucher BJ: The problems of vitamin d insufficiency in older people. Aging Dis 2012;3:313-329.
6. Zittermann A, Iodice S, Pilz S, et al: Vitamin D deficiency and mortality risk in the general population: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:91-100.
7. Michaelsson K, Baron JA, Snellman G, et al: Plasma vitamin D and mortality in older men: a community-based prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;92:841-848.
8. Dror Y, Giveon SM, Hoshen M, et al: Vitamin D levels for preventing acute coronary syndrome and mortality: evidence of a nonlinear association. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2013;98:2160-2167.
9. Melamed ML, Michos ED, Post W, et al: 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and the Risk of Mortality in the General Population. Arch Intern Med 2008;168:1629-1637.
10. Durup D, Jorgensen HL, Christensen J, et al: A reverse J-shaped association of all-cause mortality with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in general practice: the CopD study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2012;97:2644-2652.
11. Sempos CT, Durazo-Arvizu RA, Dawson-Hughes B, et al: Is there a reverse J-shaped association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and all-cause mortality? Results from the U.S. nationally representative NHANES. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2013;98:3001-3009.
12. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Orav EJ, et al: A pooled analysis of vitamin D dose requirements for fracture prevention. N Engl J Med 2012;367:40-49.
13. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Kiel DP, Dawson-Hughes B, et al: Dietary calcium and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status in relation to BMD among U.S. adults. J Bone Miner Res 2009;24:935-942.
14. Michaelsson K, Melhus H, Warensjo Lemming E, et al: Long term calcium intake and rates of all cause and cardiovascular mortality: community based prospective longitudinal cohort study. BMJ 2013;346:f228.
15. Wang L, Manson JE, Sesso HD: Calcium intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: a review of prospective studies and randomized clinical trials. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs 2012;12:105-116.
16. Li K, Kaaks R, Linseisen J, et al: Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg). Heart 2012;98:920-925.
17. Bolland MJ, Grey A, Gamble GD, et al: Calcium and vitamin D supplements and health outcomes: a reanalysis of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) limited-access data set. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:1144-1149.
18. Bolland MJ, Avenell A, Baron JA, et al: Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. BMJ 2010;341:c3691.