As more and more North Americans are affected by osteoporosis, the disease has received increased attention by media and medical researcher.
As more and more North Americans are affected by osteoporosis, the disease has received increased attention by media and medical researchers. Although most experts agree that osteoporosis is caused by a long-term calcium deficiency, efforts to treat or prevent it with calcium supplements have been disappointing. The main problem is with absorption. For a variety of reasons, only a small percentage of the calcium we get whether from food or supplements actually makes it into the bloodstream.
Because the rate of bone loss in women accelerates rapidly after menopause, the mainstream approach to osteoporosis has focused almost exclusively on the use of synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other estrogen-type drugs to delay post-menopausal bone loss. Unfortunately, this solution comes at a price. The side-effects of long-term HRT include increased risk of breast and uterine cancer. However, 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.
Dr. Takuo Fujita has spent a considerable part of his career searching for a form of calcium that can be more efficiently absorbed and used by the body. His first breakthrough came when he discovered a compound called AAACa, a unique form of calcium derived from oyster shell that doesn't have the same drawbacks as other shell-derived 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 is shown to burn off any heavy metals that might be present in the natural shell. Even more importantly, it also 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, another popular form of calcium supplement.
To determine whether AAACa is actually effective in preventing and treating osteoporosis, Dr. Fujita has 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 percent) 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 per cent 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.
Experts estimate that to supply the body's cellular needs and to build and maintain bone stores, we need 900 to 2,000 milligrams of elemental calcium every day, starting in adolescence. Unfortunately, the average diet provides only about 500 mg of calcium. Yet six caplets of AAACa daily (available in health food stores) will provide 900 milligrams of highly absorbable elemental calcium, the amount proven effective in multiple clinical 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", notes Dr. Fujita, "but is only a start toward the eradication of all calcium-deficiency diseases and the achievement of a healthy future for humankind."