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Dr. Cannell on the treatment of osteoporosis, its complications and silicon

Posted on: April 27, 2015   by  John Cannell, MD


As we age, many of us will develop osteoporosis. Compression fractures of the vertebra are a common painful complication of osteoporosis. Recently, a procedure called “vertebral augmentation” has been developed to treat compression fractures.

Vertebral augmentation procedures are minimally invasive surgeries. Typically, the patient goes home the same day as the procedure, or in some cases after an overnight hospital stay. The procedure involves injecting bone cement into the inside of the fractured vertebra in order to create an “internal cast” inside the bone, stabilizing the fracture and reducing the patient’s pain.

Recently, researchers in Taiwan studied 79,000 patients who experienced at least one vertebral augmentation to determine the risk factors associated with having a repeat procedure. Eleven percent of these patients had to repeat the procedure over the six years they were followed.

Liang CL, Wang HK, Syu FK, Wang KW, Lu K, Liliang PC. Repeated vertebral augmentation for new vertebral compression fractures of postvertebral augmentation patients: a nationwide cohort study. Clin Interv Aging. 2015 Mar 27;10:635-42.

They found patients on vitamin D and calcium (unspecified dose) were almost 3 times less likely to need a repeat procedure.

When I read this study, I wondered what the need for these procedures would have been if these elderly patients were required to take a good bone formula to combat their osteoporosis. The one I recommend is Bone Restore with Vitamin K2 from Life Extension Foundation. While you need to take 5,000 IU/day of vitamin D with Bone Restore, this product has the other minerals that bone requires to help osteoporosis, such as magnesium, zinc, silicon, boron and vitamin K2. Bone needs more than vitamin D to be healthy.

Silicon is especially important for treating osteoporosis and a recent review reinforced this.

Rodella LF, Bonazza V, Labanca M, Lonati C, Rezzani R. A review of the effects of dietary silicon intake on bone homeostasis and regeneration. J Nutr Health Aging. 2014 Nov;18(9):820-6. 

Even a RCT showed favorable effects of silicon on bone.

Spector TD, Calomme MR, Anderson SH, Clement G, Bevan L, Demeester N, Swaminathan R, Jugdaohsingh R, Berghe DA, Powell JJ. Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid supplementation as an adjunct to calcium/vitamin D3 stimulates markers of bone formation in osteopenic females: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2008 Jun 11;9:85.

Did you know there is even a randomized controlled trial showing silicon supplementation helps skin appearance and brittleness of fingernails in women with sun-damaged skin?

Barel A, Calomme M, Timchenko A, De Paepe K, Demeester N, Rogiers V, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe D. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Arch Dermatol Res. 2005 Oct;297(4):147-53. Epub 2005 Oct 26. Erratum in: Arch Dermatol Res. 2006 Apr;297(10):481. 

In Finland, research has also found that the higher the amount of silicon in the drinking water, the lower the likelihood of developing heart disease.

Schwarz K, Ricci BA, Punsar S, Karvonen MJ. Inverse relation of silicon in drinking water and atherosclerosis in Finland. Lancet. 1977 Mar 5;1(8010):538-9. No abstract available.

For a review of silicon, see:

Jurkić LM, Cepanec I, Pavelić SK, Pavelić K. Biological and therapeutic effects of ortho-silicic acid and some ortho-silicic acid-releasing compounds: New perspectives for therapy. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2013 Jan 8;10(1):2. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-10-2.

However, silicon is an orphaned mineral, meaning there is no scientist who has dedicated his life’s work to silicon, that is, there is no silicon expert.

So, if you have osteoporosis, remember there is much more to it than just vitamin D and calcium, as the open access article below summarizes.

Price CT, Langford JR, Liporace FA. Essential Nutrients for Bone Health and a Review of their Availability in the Average North American Diet. Open Orthop J. 2012;6:143-9. 

6 Responses to Dr. Cannell on the treatment of osteoporosis, its complications and silicon

  1. Rita Celone Umile

    Great post. TY. Let’s remember it’s easier to prevent osteo than to treat it. But it is possible to nip osteo thru holistic means.

  2. Rebecca Oshiro

    I agree, Rita. There’s so much more to bone health than calcium alone!

    • Anh Phan

      Instead of taking supplement with minerals, which may not bioavailable to our body, we should use ancients wisdom: Bone soup. Very slow cook bone, marrow with vinegar. The soup have the most balanced mineral for human bone rebuilt , calcium, magnesium, silicon, boron, ect, and collagen too, which is also very important for bone formation, and tissue repair. I just take vitamin D because my office is inside the building, and have not enough time for sun exposure. My other supplement mostly from food.

  3. [email protected]

    Osteopenia / osteoporosis can absolutely be prevented and reversed by (1) identifying and eliminating — or at least ameliorating — the many factors in our modern lives that promote inflammation, which if chronic, activates osteoclasts (the cells that break down bone) excessively, (2) and providing our bones with all the nutrients they require to rebuild, which includes not just calcium and vitamin D, but vitamin K (K1 and K2), magnesium, vitamin C, B vitamins, boron and a wide range of other trace minerals, including silicon. You can find the full — >400 page review of the peer-reviewed literature discussing all these aspects of restoring healthy bones naturally in Your Bones, 2nd edition — it’s published by a non-profit and should be available in your library.

  4. Rita Celone Umile

    Besides nutrients, healthy bones require adequate sleep and regular resistance-based exercise. Our modern-day lifestyles have moved so far away from what nature intended.

  5. susanbrown

    Hi Dr. Cannell,
    Thanks so much for calling attention to the fact the silicon and at least 20 other nutrients are essential for bone health. We constantly recommend our Better Bones community make good use of your every expanding insights on the importance of vitamin D.
    Thank for all you important work.
    Dr. Susan Brown, http://www.betterbones.com

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