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Strong Bones for Life

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If you've been watching the news, you've probably seen the grim statistics on osteoporosis, a heartbreaking condition that forces more people into nursing homes than almost any other.

If you've been watching the news, you've probably seen the grim statistics on osteoporosis, a heartbreaking condition that forces more people into nursing homes than almost any other.

Most experts agree that the primary factor in developing osteoporosis appears to be long-term calcium deficiency. Therefore, instead of waiting until it's too late to begin treating osteoporosis, people should take preventive measures earlier in life such as increasing their calcium intake and bone reserves.

Our bodies need calcium for a variety of functions, including energy production and nerve and heart functions. Most of the body's calcium supply is stored in bones, where it also provides strength and rigidity to the skeleton. If there is not enough calcium circulating in the blood to supply the body's cellular needs, the body will pull calcium out of its "reserves" in the bone. If calcium intake is chronically low, bones will eventually become porous, weak and prone to fracture.

Experts estimate that in order to supply the body's cellular needs and build and maintain bone stores, we need to consume 900 to 2,000 milligrams of elemental calcium every day, starting in adolescence. Unfortunately, the average diet provides only about 500 mg of calcium. To make matters worse, our ability to absorb what little calcium we do consume declines with age. In view of this reality, the prevalence of osteoporosis is hardly surprising and the need for more safe and effective treatments is essential.

New research from Japan suggests that a newly discovered and highly absorbable form of calcium has the power to prevent and reverse bone loss without dangerous hormonal manipulation. AAACa is a form of calcium derived from oyster shells. It's created via a unique processing technique that overcomes the disadvantages of other oyster-shell calcium supplements. Instead of being mechanically ground into powder, the oyster shells are heated to extremely high temperatures (about 800 C), creating a fine ash. This smelting process burns off any heavy metals that might be present in the natural shell and, even more importantly, releases the calcium from the tough calcium/carbon bond, yielding calcium hydroxide and calcium oxide. These two compounds have much weaker molecular bonds, allowing them to be broken down more easily in the digestive tract. Indeed, early studies have shown that AAACa is absorbed more than twice as well as calcium carbonate.

To determine whether AAACa is actually effective in preventing and treating osteoporosis, Dr. Takuo Fujita conducted a number of long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. In one study of 58 elderly women, AAACa increased the bone mineral density (BMD) of the spine by more than three per cent after two years. By comparison, women taking regular calcium-carbonate supplements experienced only a slight (0.6 per cent) increase of spinal BMD, while women taking a placebo lost almost two per cent.

A larger study indicates that AAACa is not only effective in preventing osteoporosis, but it can also be used to reverse bone loss once the disease process has occurred. In a trial of 136 patients (ages 51 to 83) already suffering from osteoporosis, those taking AAACa had an increase in spinal BMD of 4.5 percent over three years. By comparison, those taking a placebo lost about 3.5 percent. Unlike prescription drugs and hormones that target only postmenopausal women, AAACa is appropriate for men and women of all ages and has no side-effects or associated risks.

Six caplets of AAACa daily will provide 900 mg of highly absorbable elemental calcium, the amount proven effective in multiple scientific trials. According to Dr. Fujita's research, you can boost the effectiveness of calcium therapy by taking three caplets half of the daily dosage at bedtime, since most bone loss occurs at night. "Prevention and control of osteoporosis is not our final goal," says Dr. Fujita, "but only a start toward the eradication of all calcium-deficiency diseases and the achievement of a healthy future for humankind."

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