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Why Calcium and Vitamin D Aren't Enough

While calcium and vitamin D remain a popular combination for bone support, these two nutrients are not enough to ensure healthy bones. Explore how bone health is gaining traction outside of supplements and learn which other nutrients are essential for bone health.

Supporting Bone Health at All Stages of Life

Bone health is influenced by bone mass and body mechanics, aided by proper nutrition throughout life. During the formative years, it’s important to maximize peak bone mass, while in the later years, reducing bone loss becomes paramount. The importance of supporting bone health at every life stage creates a largely untapped opportunity in products that target all consumers. 

While supplements continue to lead in bone health product launches, bone health claims are on the rise in the beverage category—specifically in plant-based and meal replacement beverages. Among new food, beverage, and supplement launches globally with bone health claims, plant-based beverages with claims grew by 52% and nutritional/meal replacement drinks by 40% in the past five years.1 

Mineral Balance for Bone Health

In looking at the composition of bone, it becomes clear that bones require a balance of minerals—not just calcium. Simply fortifying a product with calcium isn’t enough to support the bones’ structure, density, and strength. After calcium, phosphorous is the most abundant mineral in the bones. In fact, most of the body’s phosphorous (about 85%) is contained in the bones and teeth.

Phosphorous is essential for the growth and mineralization of bones. The balance of phosphorous and calcium is particularly important. For example, when phosphorous intake is high but calcium is low, the body releases excess parathyroid hormone, which causes calcium to be released from the bones into the bloodstream. This imbalance can ultimately lead to a decline in bone density.

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The balance of magnesium and calcium is also critical to bone health. Magnesium influences the concentrations of both parathyroid hormone and vitamin D, another regulator of bone homeostasis. Magnesium also plays a key role in bone formation. In bone, the typical ratio of calcium to magnesium is 2 to 1, but low magnesium intake can shift the ratio as far as 4 to 1.

Supporting Vitamins for Optimal Bone Health

Beyond minerals, there are also certain vitamins that are essential for healthy bones. Vitamin D is probably the best-known example, especially for its role in promoting calcium absorption. But vitamin K is another supporting vitamin. Vitamin K2, in particular, helps activate osteocalcin, a protein that utilizes calcium to increase bone mineral density. Maximizing bone density is key to reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life.

Optimized Ingredients for Healthy Bones

The trend in bone health claims in plant-based and meal replacement beverages indicates a growing interest in consuming nutrients to support healthy bones as a regular part of the diet. As consumers become more educated in this area, they will seek out products that offer the most comprehensive bone support and will expect these benefits in a wider variety of products.

As a nutritional ingredient leader, Glanbia Nutritionals provides ingredients that support optimal health based on the latest science—such as TruCal®, a balanced milk mineral complex that delivers all the minerals bones need and has been shown to help improve bone density and strength2. Our All NTM Off-the-Shelf Bone Health Premix with TruCal® and MenaQ7® Vitamin K2 allows brands to produce foods, beverages, and supplements fully optimized for bone health support. 

Watch our video to see how TruCal® stands out from other calcium sources.

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References

1. Mintel, Nutrition watch: Bone health, March 2021.
2. Glanbia Nutritionals study. Data on file. 

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