VDC test kit slider
VDC test kit slider
sperti logo 1
Text size A A A
High contrast on off

Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

The many nutrients for bone health

When most people think about bone health, they think vitamin D and calcium, but actually several other nutrients are needed for bone health. They are:

  • magnesium
  • vitamin K
  • zinc
  • boron
  • silicon
  • and, perhaps as important as any, the acid/base balance of your body

Harding A. K-Citrate Helps Maintain Bones in Older Adults. Reuters . Nov 27, 2012

Of course, the best thing to do is to eat a diet rich in vegetables and one deficient in sodium, white flour and sugar, but most people just don’t do that. Therefore, some researchers have suggested taking potassium, which is in vegetables, as a supplement. In fact, two recent randomized controlled trials have shown potassium supplementation helps bone.

Jehle S, Hulter HN, Krapf R. Effect of Potassium Citrate on Bone Density, Microarchitecture, and Fracture Risk in Healthy Older Adults without Osteoporosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Nov 15.

Buehlmeier J, Frings-Meuthen P, Remer T, Maser-Gluth C, Stehle P, Biolo G, Heer M Alkaline Salts to Counteract Bone Resorption and Protein Wasting Induced by High Salt Intake: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Oct 1

It is not clear what dose of potassium is needed, but I have my physician prescribe 25 meq of potassium bicarbonate every day.


I also drink Trader Joe’s vegetable juice every day, which is high in potassium, and I try to eat as many vegetables as I can.

And, I state again, we know magnesium supplementation improves bone, so you may consider magnesium supplementation.

Stendig-Lindberg G, Tepper R, Leichter I. Trabecular bone density in a two year controlled trial of peroral magnesium in osteoporosis. Magnes Res. 1993 Jun;6(2):155-63.

In fact, more and more scientists are questioning the ill effects of magnesium deficiency in the USA.

Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64.

To the best of my knowledge, the effect of physiological doses of K2,, zinc,  and boron in bone health have not been studied in randomized controlled trials, but all are required for vitamin D’s metabolism. The question is not if they are needed, but how much is needed.

Nevertheless, the data for magnesium and potassium seem clear as intakes of those two minerals depend mainly on vegetable intakes, which is woefully low in the USA. Those who depend on vitamin D and calcium alone to maintain their bone health will be sadly disappointed.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

3 Responses to The many nutrients for bone health

  1. Rebecca Oshiro says:

    Exercise, and particularly weight-bearing exercise, are critical for bone health too.

    Log in to Reply
  2. Rita and Misty says:

    Dr. Cannell,

    I’m curious about strontium with respect to bone health….

    I’ve recently added strontium to my growing list of supplements; and if it isn’t helpful, I’d be glad to drop it….



    Log in to Reply
  3. Some of these nutrients not only benefit the bone, but also improve the response to vitamin D. Magnesium, Vitamin K2 (not just K), Boron, Silica, and Zinc. A table showing how much benefit of each of these nutrients is at http://is.gd/cofactors

    Log in to Reply