BETTER QUALITY AND LESS EXPENSIVE IN THE USA
There is broad agreement amongst experts about the osteoporosis vitamins and minerals needed to build strong bones. Recommended intake varies across health and government associations but in North America the daily recommended levels (for adults over age fifty) range as follows:
Surprisingly, the cost and availability of these osteoporosis vitamins and minerals vary significantly around the world. A full program can cost as little as $250 a year in the United States to over $700US a year in other countries. Fortunately, alternatives are available for those who are prepared to look beyond their local grocery store...and shop on-line.
CALCIUM? A GOOD START BUT NOT ENOUGH TO GET THE JOB DONE
Doctors routinely advise patients to take calcium to prevent osteoporosis but offer little assistance in the selection of a high quality brand or formula. As most calcium tablets are made from limestone (which costs less than $30 a tonne) people assume that their calcium will be inexpensive-and are both surprised and confused at the huge selection and price range that faces them when they arrive at the store.
Most North Americans are familiar with the heavily marketed Caltrate brand which will cost $150-$350 and not provide the recommended levels of magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K. Customers often assume they are purchasing a superior product when they pay more but a little research will reveal better formulas on-line that cost approximately $30US a year ...with the convenience of being shipped to their door.
Interestingly, some countries (such as Canada) prevent the import of low cost osteoporosis vitamins and encourage their citizens to pay extra for vitamins that are produced locally. An inexpensive osteoporosis prevention program can still be assembled...but requires more work (and more tablets) to get the recommended intake.
Calcium/magnesium formulas are readily available in most countries and are often the foundation of an osteoporosis prevention program. But prices vary substantially even for this modest first step. Canadians will pay approximately $70US a year for two tablets a day purchased at a drug store. Europeans will pay approximately $50US for a years supply from on-line supplier such as Barrett and Holland. Americans are the fortunate ones again as they will pay only $22US for this very simple formula.
VITAMIN D. ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL...AND YOU ARE PROBABLY DEFICIENT
Vitamin D is absolutely essential for calcium absorption but research shows that approximately two-thirds of North Americans are vitamin D deficient during the winter months. North of Boston, Rome and Beijing, the sun's ultraviolet rays are simply not strong enough to produce vitamin D for five months or even longer.
So how much vitamin D do we need? Osteoporosis Canada recently increased its recommendation for people over fifty to 800-2,000 IU daily. But experts in the Vitamin D Council argue that we may need 5,000 IU in the winter to maintain blood levels in the middle of the recommended 75-200nmol/L range.
Despite the compelling evidence on the importance of vitamin D, many countries allow the vitamin to be sold only in 1,000 IU increments. Canadians can enjoy taking five tablets a day for six winter months for a approximately $45US. Europeans will pay about $50US a year for the joy of taking five tablets a day. And those lucky Americans can take one 5,000 IU gel tab for six months for a mere $20US.
In Japan, vitamin K2 has been an approved medication for osteoporosis since 1995. A meta-analysis of seven Japanese studies found that vitamin K2 supplements lowered the risk of vertebral fractures by 60%, hip fractures by 77%, and nonvertebral fractures by 81%. Even Doctor Oz is encouraging the use of vitamin K2 for supporting healthy bone development.
There are two types of vitamin K2 available for osteoporosis prevention and treatment. Although the research is not conclusive regarding the superiority of MK-7 over MK-4, the popularity of MK-7 is increasing despite the higher price.
Canadians must shop around to find vitamin K2 (MK-7) in health food stores and when successful pay approximately $120US for a year's supply. Europeans will pay approximately $225US a year for vitamin K2 purchased on-line. And those lucky Americans with their competitive market will pay as little as $70US to have the vitamins shipped to their door.
Research conducted for a French pharmaceutical company revealed that strontium reduces the rate of bone turnover, helps to build new bone of high quality and can improve bone density by 8-14% over a three year period. While the studies were conducted on a patented version of strontium, there is no evidence that prescription strontium outperforms strontium-citrate which is readily available in most health food stores.
A Canadian will pay approximately $230US for a year's supply of strontium citrate. Europeans have access to prescription strontium (strontium ranelate) but may find strontium citrate difficult to find. And those lucky Americans can buy a years supply of strontium citrate for approximately $130 a year ...almost half of a what a Canadian would pay without shopping on-line.
Fortunately, American suppliers have successfully shipped their high quality and inexpensive products around the world for over half a century. Canadians and Europeans will pay approximately $470-$700 US annually for osteoporosis vitamins that include calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2 and strontium...if they insist on shopping in local stores. Or they can pay approximately $250 annually by buying on-line from an American manufacturer that meets the highest standards for quality control.
As osteoporosis vitamins must be taken for 30-40 years, shopping on-line can provide significant savings as well as convenience. These savings will range from $230-450 annually...but even more compelling is that the savings add up to $2,300-$4,500 over a decade.