Healthy Bones: More Than a Calcium Supplement
When most people think “bones,” the next thing that comes to mind is “calcium.” If you are a woman in your menopausal or pre-menopausal years, it is one of the things your personal physician most undoubtedly has recommended you take daily. Calcium is absolutely an important mineral in our body—it is not only important for bone health, but also the health of the nervous system, muscles, heart, blood, skin, hair, and nails, amongst many other functions. But the problem is that if you take calcium alone or in excess, the calcium will likely not go to the right places in the body, and may even build up in the wrong places, causing issues like accumulation in arteries or the kidneys.1 To avoid this, rather than consuming large amounts of a nutrient all at once in a day (like with a calcium supplement that contains a whopping 1000 mg of calcium) Ayurveda generally recommends acquiring our nutrients in small doses throughout the day with whole foods, including herbs. Whole foods contain other minerals and vitamins that act like messengers or vehicles, assisting in the proper absorption and assimilation of calcium in the body.
Healthy Bones was therefore not designed to be just another calcium supplement. Banyan wanted a product that supported the human bone structure with supplements similar in nature and composition to actual human bone, and synergized with herbs that help maintain bone health at the core of the human body—the digestive tract.
The first ingredient in Healthy Bones is coral calcium. Coral calcium is not just calcium— it contains minerals that are found in similar proportions in the human body. The minerals found in coral improve the bioavailability of calcium, as described by the mineral wheel, which shows how the many minerals in the body depend on each other to create a balanced physiology.
Compared to many calcium supplements, which often contain calcium carbonate derived from limestone, coral calcium is derived from a living source. Coral is a byproduct of tiny sea anemone that take in minerals from the ocean and deposit coral on the ocean floors. Because of this digestion process, coral calcium is unique in its ionic, easily absorbable form. This all results in a form of calcium that synergizes beautifully with the human body. In one small study, when twenty healthy adult volunteers ate coral-added crackers, the absorption of calcium (as measured by the increase in urinary calcium excretion) was significantly greater than when those same individuals ate calcium carbonate-added crackers. The study found similar results with magnesium absorption.2
Consider the following microscopic images. The first image shows coral calcium and the second shows calcium carbonate. Note how porous the coral calcium is. Compare these images with the microscopic image of human bone, which is also porous and similar in structure to the coral calcium. The porosity allows the minerals to better dissolve. Further, Ayurveda has a rule of “like increases like.” Because of the similar structure and qualities, according to this rule, the human bone should assimilate the coral calcium better than calcium carbonate derived from limestone.
Sustainability of Banyan’s Coral Source
As you read this, if you are concerned about the sustainability and preservation of Earth’s natural coral, rest assured we had this same exact concern. There certainly are some coral supplements that have been harvested from coral below sea level, which does destroy living reefs and upset ecological balance. The source of coral we use, however, utilizes fossilized, ancient reefs that have been geologically pushed above ground thousands of years ago.
Synergizing with Ayurveda’s Ancient Herbs
Weak bones are more often than not caused by high ether and air elements, or vata. Ayurveda also explains that the colon has an intricate relationship with bone, and its health is of utmost importance when it comes to bone health. Not surprisingly, the colon is the seat of vata and plays a role in the absorption of many of the minerals and vitamins important to bone health. This is why we have chosen the herbs in Healthy Bones to complement the coral calcium.
Ashwagandha, as a fantastic pacifier of vata and nourisher of the body, it is naturally excellent for bone health. For instance, the major constituent, withaferin A, has been shown to support the cells that naturally create bone tissue, which are called osteoblasts, and decrease the activity of the cells that naturally break down bone tissue, which are called osteoclasts.5 In one study of laying hens, the hydro-alcoholic extract of ashwagandha improved the retention of calcium and phosphorus in the tibia bone.6 Arjuna is similarly known to support bone health. Ginger is a great herb for detoxification and cleansing, particularly in the digestive tract. Without a healthy colon, one is bound to have a number of health problems including challenges with bones.
How to Get Your Daily Dose of Calcium
Each serving of Healthy Bones (two tablets) provides 218 mg of calcium. The daily recommended allowance for calcium ranges from 1000-1300 mg. Therefore, if you were to take two servings of Healthy Bones, you would get roughly 43.6% of the daily recommended amount of calcium. Getting the remaining 564 mg or so of calcium can be done easily in a number of ways. Here are a few examples of calcium derived from whole foods.7
- 1 cup of milk (300 mg)
- 1 cup of yogurt (450 mg)
- 1 ½ ounces of mozzarella cheese (350 mg)
- 1 cup of dried figs (300 mg)
- 4 ounces of soft tofu (120-390 mg)
- 1 ounce of whole roasted sesame seeds (280 mg)
- 1 cup of cooked spinach (240 mg)
- 1 cup of cooked amaranth (270 mg)