Building Strong Bones Through Nutrition

Welcome to Osteo Naturals. We invite you to shop our online store for quality nutritional supplements that promote skeletal health. In addition, our site is full of useful information about osteoporosis and insights about how it can be managed naturally.

Individuals who intend to stay active into retirement will need strong, healthy bones, and a strategy for maintaining muscle strength and coordination. Whatever your age or current condition, it is never too early or too late to make a positive difference. The "Osteo Naturals difference" = natural ingredients chosen for quality, safety, purity and potency.

A Message From the Founder

“It is my hope that we can be of great service to you. Our products are the result of over 10 years of research into the biology of bone, the causes of bone loss, and what it takes for the body to re-capture and maintain bone strength. This journey started after my own diagnosis of severe osteoporosis (T score of -4.3) and multiple fragility fractures that I sustained over a 5-year period. Because of my own challenges in improving bone mineral density, I know how difficult it can be to find the right supplements.

At Osteo Naturals we hope to make it easier for you to achieve a healthy outcome with natural products. With a market flooded with hundreds of calcium and bone health supplements, it can be difficult to decide on which product will best suit your needs. In short, we offer products you can trust: with no “window dressing” ingredients, no cheap or substandard ingredients, and no “hype.” Osteo Naturals is Where Bone Strength Begins. Thank you for visiting us.”

R. Keith McCormick, DC, CCSP

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Power of AWE on Health and Well Being

"When people think of an Ironman competition, it may elicit the emotion of least it does in me. And, when a person strives to overcome a disease like osteoporosis, to me, it elicits awe as well. But awe is apparent in every aspect in life - big and small. The key is to put away distractions and stay completely present and connected; you will experience awe-inspiring stuff all around you."
                                                                                                              Dr. McCormick

What is "awe"?
Wikipedia says that awe is "an emotion comparable to wonder but less joyous." The dictionary defines it as "an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear..." and "produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful..." Maybe a more gut-generated definition would be "that which drops your jaw"..."that which leaves your mouth agape"..."that which powers through your
body, not just as some exciting visual titillation, but something that sends extreme ripples of energy throughout every single cell, tissue, fluid and organ in your body"...and yes, even your bones (more about that soon!)

The emotion of awe can be aroused by a sight, sound, feeling, smell, or taste, or any combination there of. It can be evoked by the actions of a person, an animal, or by a weather event or music. It can be caused by something as small as nanoparticles or as large as the universe. It can be inspired by something as common as a crow or as rare as a natural pearl. It can be from something that may cause one person's heart to race while barely producing a blip in another. It can be fickle...something that may inspire awe in a person one day may completely flat line on another. And awe can also be both complex and simple. I've sometimes been left in awe by something only to analyze it later and then loose the awe. Sometimes it's best to not over-think or analyze the thing that gives you awe. Just let whatever it is do its thing. Let it simply and thoroughly pull that guttural awwwwwwwe of inspiration out of you.. and then let it continue producing the awwwwwwwe of it tantalizes all through your body...all the way to your bones.

J.E. Stellar and colleagues explain in a recent issue of the journal, Emotion, that awe has clear health benefits. We have all experienced a grumpy neighbor or coworker who is negative about everything and has every health issue in the book; it's difficult to know if the negativity is responsible for the health problems or the poor health is the root of the negative attitude. Suppose you were able to help that individual experience things in a new light - elicit a smile and physical signs of joy, open his/her eyes to new possibilities and the good, amazing things that happen every day all around us? Stellar has shown that it really would help - emotionally, physically, and bio-chemically.

Stellar studied college student's reactions to various emotions and found that there was a relationship between discrete positive emotions and the blood level of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-6 (IL-6). This is very important because excessive levels of IL-6 not only promote inflammation but it also stokes osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone and are responsible for bone loss. (For more on how this happens and what it does to your skeleton check out Chapter 4, "Chronic Systemic Inflammation and the Conflagration of Bone" in The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis

We want to lower IL-6 levels. IL-6 is natural to the body but when its levels get too high we are in a state of chronic systemic inflammation and this leads to osteoporosis. We want to do everything we can to lower this pro-inflammatory cytokine and Stellar's work demonstrates how important it really is to be more positive in our lives. Stellar specifically demonstrates that the positive emotion of awe is "the strongest predictor of lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines."

Rudolf Steiner, the great Austrian philosopher who founded the first Waldorf Steiner School, believed that wonder and awe were key to the acquisition of knowledge. It was through the opening of one's body, mind, and spirit to the wonders of nature that Steiner believed we were best able to develop acute emotional sensitivity and a state of well being. Steiner didn't know anything about IL-6 but he sure understood the importance of awe.

Make it a point to look on the bright side of things, check out the greatness of life...and above all, simply observe sometimes and be in awe.

Stellar, J.E., et al. 2015. Positive affect and markers of inflammation: discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines.
Emotion 15(2):129-33.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Creatine and Resistance Training Improves Bone Mineral Density

Having just completed the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon and qualifying for the Ironman World
Championships to be held on October 10th in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, I thought it might be fitting to talk about exercise and bone strength.

Ironman triathlons cover a distance of 140.6 miles (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run) which, I guess (well, I know), is kind of crazy...especially since competitors do it all in one day. I'm actually not so sure this form of exercise is really that healthy but it just happens to be something I enjoy doing. (It is amazing I can say I enjoy it just 3 days after the Lake Placid race...gosh am I sore!). In any case, exercise IS very important for bone health. But we need to have the right nutrients for that exercise to do its job.  

Calcium and magnesium of course are important for bone health, as are trace minerals. Vitamins D and K help us absorb and utilize calcium and without these vitamins the mineral intake would be fairly ineffective. If you have never had your vitamin D level checked, now is the time to do it. Please don't rely on just taking 1,000 or 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D, as I have had MANY patients who have told me they take 2,000 IU/day, yet when I test them we find they are lacking in vitamin D. Some people just have a harder time absorbing D than others and even at 2,000 IU/day they need TEST!!!  Your target for an optimal vitamin D level should be between 35 and 60 ng/ml. The best time to test vitamin D is in March or April when your stores are the lowest after a long dark winter with its low intensity sun. That said, if you have never had it tested NOW is the best time.  

In addition to supplementing with bone-health promoting minerals and vitamins, another product I often recommend is creatine. Creatine is an amino acid natural to the body and vital for building muscles and for muscle contractions. Creatine is naturally manufactured by the body (from arginine, glycine, and methionine) but as we age our ability to form creatine declines. We can obtain creatine from our diet but the best sources are fish and meat which are acidic and large quantities of these foods may not be the best way to ensure adequate creatine levels. Because creatine is only obtained through animal products, vegetarians have difficulty maintaining adequate creatine levels. For these reasons supplementing with creatine, especially if you have bone loss, is a good idea.  

A recent article by Chilibeck, et al. in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that "twelve months of creatine supplementation during a resistance training program preserves femoral neck BMD [bone mineral density] and increases femoral shaft subperiosteal width, a predictor of bone bending strength, in postmenopausal women." Creatine can help us maintain muscle strength which is important for reducing falls (falling is the number one cause of fractures). Creatine also helps build muscle tissue and since robust active muscles release bio-chemicals called myokines to signal bone strengthening, muscles are a good thing to develop if you have bone loss.  

Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor to start an exercise program, I suggest hooking up with a personal trainer. Trainers can help keep you from injuring yourself by making sure you are doing exercises properly. You wouldn't want to break a bone while loading them to stimulate strengthening. In addition to exercise, take in adequate vitamins and minerals such as our OsteoNaturals products and consider adding creatine to your nutrition supplement list. I typically recommend KreAlkalyn Pro by Designs for Health but there are many other companies that produce good creatine products. Shop around and see what fits you the best. Now, get exercising and have fun making your skeleton stronger and healthier! Maybe I'll see you in Kona!  

Chilibeck, P.D., et al. 2015. Effects of creatine and resistance training on bone health in postmenopausal women.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 47(8):1587-95.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Do You Know Your Level of Risk?

May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention month ~ Do You Know Your Level of Risk?
It is my opinion that every woman and man should have a bone density examination (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or DXA) between the ages of 40 and 45...even if there are no risk factors for osteoporosis. THAT is a bold statement considering the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) only recommend osteoporosis screening with DXA for women 65 years and older, and for men over 70. (Earlier for both groups if risk factors are present.) (Risk factors are such things as family history of osteoporosis, weight under 127 pounds, history of smoking or excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, etc.) So why would I go so much against the grain and recommend such an early screening? 

My recommendation comes not just from my own tussle with this disease but also from clinical experience. My personal story (which many of you are already aware of) is that I had no risk factors for osteoporosis but was diagnosed at age 45 with severe bone loss. It wasn't an examination of any kind that alerted me to my "silent" was just that I began to...crumble. (I had a -4.3 T score of the spine and suffered 12 fragility fractures over a five year period.) I REALLY wish I would have had a DXA scan 5 years earlier. Maybe all those fractures could have been avoided. In the clinical setting, I see quite a few patients in my office under the age of 50 with osteoporosis. How did they find out they had weak bones? Well, initially it wasn't because they had a safe, non-invasive, in-expensive procedure (DXA) was because they broke a bone doing...well...not much...

Here are some facts that will make the reasoning for my recommendation more clear: 
1) 48% of patients with osteoporosis have no risk factors (Watts, N.B., et al. 2001)
2) 10 million Americans have osteoporosis
3) 50% of women and 20% of men will sustain an osteoporosis-related fracture
4) There is a 24% increase in mortality rate within 12 months of a hip fracture
5) There are over 1,200,000 osteoporosis-related fractures each year
6) Retaining bone density is WAY easier than regaining it once lost.
7) Bone density exams are inexpensive and radiation exposure is minimal. 

A recent review (Amarnath, A.L. et al., 2015) published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine determined that too few women are getting bone density scans. Researchers examined the medical records of 51,000 women aged 40 to 85 living in California and determined that only 57.8% of women aged 65 - 74 and 42.7% of women over age 75 received DXA screenings. Even with women age 60 to 64 with at least one risk factor, only 58.8% had a DXA. The researchers concluded that DXA screening is being underutilized.

My plea to you is to MAKE SURE YOU AND ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY get DXA scans. If you can’t convince your doctor to order it at age 40 or 45 then please, at least by age 50...women and men...whether or not there are any risk factors for osteoporosis.

Fractures can dramatically impact your life. Fractures of the spine can cause pain, reduced mobility, thoracic kyphosis (Dowagers hump), and reduced lung and heart function. Hip fractures are typically repaired through surgery and when a partial or total hip replacement is performed on an osteoporotic hip there is much greater risk of failure. The more osteoporotic a person is, the more risk of complications (hip dislocations, inflammation and loosening of the implant, infections, blood clots, etc.) from the surgery. Couple this risk with the possibility of faulty implants such as the Stryker-Rejuvenate device that was pulled off the market in 2012 and the Zimmer Persona knee replacement device that just had a piece of it (the trabecular metal tibial plate) recalled this February, and there is considerable cause for concern. Osteoporosis is a major pubic health problem; PREVENTION of osteoporosis is the way to go.

With May being Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month please help us get the word out to friends, family, colleagues - to anyone who will listen. It is important to find out early if bone loss is present because some day it may dramatically impact the quality of a person's life. We have compiled a great deal of information on risk factors over the last few years. Many of these factors can be reduced by individual action, and those that cannot be reduced through lifestyle changes can be lessened by taking measures to increase bone health. The key is knowing your level of risk and making a plan.

To find out more about osteoporosis and how it can be approached naturally through changes in life style and diet, strategic exercise, and supplemental nutrition go to  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kale Salad Recipe

I am often asked for my favorite kale salad recipe. Well, here it is. It comes from Frog Bottom Farm.

Massaged Kale Salad with Tahini-Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing
3/4 lb curly kale, chopped into 1-inch ribbons
salt to taste
1 Tbsp or so olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp tahini
1-2 cloves garlic
2-3 dates, pitted
additional vegetables
Put the kale in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with olive oil.  Massage with your hands until it begins to wilt and darken, less than a minute.  Set aside.  Put the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, tahini, garlic, and dates in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.  Taste the dressing; add more dates if it’s too tangy, or more apple cider vinegar if it needs a little more kick. Add about two tablespoons of the dressing to the kale, and massage again to coat.  Taste the salad at this point to see if you want to add more dressing.  Add any vegetables you like; we like grated carrots, sliced apples, golden raisins, and toasted sunflower seeds on this one.  Makes two generous portions with some leftovers. You’ll also have plenty of dressing left.  Store it in a jar in the fridge and use it on tomorrow’s kale salad!

(I often add slices of avocado. Enjoy!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Supplemental Calcium - Concerns Addressed

Two of the most frequently asked questions I field from patients: #1) Are there safety issues with
supplemental calcium...and there an increased risk for heart disease from taking calcium in a pill form? And, #2) Do calcium supplements cause kidney stones?

My response to both is, "no". Calcium supplements ARE safe and especially if you make sure your body has enough magnesium, and vitamins D and K. And, no, there is no convincing evidence that calcium supplements cause stones.    

Questions regarding the safety of supplemental calcium arose 7 years ago when a researcher (Bolland, 2008) announced that taking calcium supplements could modestly increase a person's risk for a heart attack. This literally shocked the nutrition and osteoporosis research worlds. But close scrutiny by other researchers (check out my earlier blog on this topic) called into question both the design of this study, as well as the way Bolland interpreted his results. There has been a raging debate and LOTS of misinformation being disseminated ever since. Some professionals say "just get your calcium through food" while others say "taking supplemental calcium is not only perfectly safe but can be very beneficial to your bones".  

With so many people taking calcium to improve their bone health, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) stepped in last year to take a good look at all the evidence. Their results:
"Although there was no overall indication of a connection between calcium intake and atherosclerotic heart disease or stroke, a few of the cited studies showed a weak but statistically significant positive association of calcium intake and cardiovascular disease, whereas a similar number show the opposite (protective) effects. Because of these mixed results, Heaney and colleagues determined that the findings from available clinical trials and prospective cohort studies indicated that there is no significant effect of calcium supplements on cardiovascular disease (Heaney, et al., 2012)."
The CRN went on to say: "A wide range of clinical and epidemiological studies discussed by the IOM, the EC SCF, the EVM and several published reviews and meta-analysis have shown no adverse effects with calcium intakes of 2,000 mg or less in adults ages 51 years or older. Based on the judgement of the IOM, the calcium UL for persons aged 19 through 50 years should be 2,500 mg, which is the midpoint between the value for individuals ages 51 years and older and the 3,000 mg UL for adolescents. Considering the quite variable calcium intake from foods, dairy products, and fortified foods, CRN agrees with the EVM that a maximum supplement level for adults should be 1,500 mg. Thus, the CRN UL for supplemental calcium is set at 1,500 mg per day for adults."
When I went to the 2013 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland the question over the safety of supplemental calcium was a huge topic. I spoke with several researchers and the answer was always the same. "Supplemental calcium is safe." A sampling:
Douglas Bauer, et al. Dietary and supplemental calcium intake and the risk of mortality in older men: the MrOS study concluded: "...there was no evidence that supplements increased the risk of mortality among those with the highest dietary calcium intake..." and, "...calcium supplements and the combination of high dietary calcium intake and supplement use were not associated with total or cardiovascular mortality."
Joshua Lewis, et al. The cardiovascular safety of calcium supplementation with or without vitamin D in elderly women: A collaborative meta-analysis of published and unpublished trial level evidence from randomized controlled trials concluded: "The data from this meta-analysis does not support the concept that calcium supplementation with or without vitamin D increase the risk of ischemic heart disease or total mortality in elderly women."
I hope this helps clarify the question about the safety of calcium supplements. Our OsteoSustain has 525 mg of calcium in three caplets. That is 175 mg in each caplet. This amount was chosen for a reason during the formulation process of this product. Obtaining adequate calcium is vital for skeletal health but we also know that it is not good to ingest high amounts of calcium all at once. Since it is virtually impossible to obtain adequate calcium and magnesium from one's diet alone, we need to supplement. This is ESPECIALLY true if you are osteoporotic. But we also want to avoid a "spike" in blood calcium levels...a problem that could potentially interfere with normal heart rhythms. This has been shown (although research has not determined if this has any long term detrimental effect) when a person ingests 500 mg or more of calcium all at once.

Our OsteoMineralBoost contains 140 mg calcium in each caplet. Once again, a very manageable amount of calcium for the body to assimilate without causing any excess spike of calcium in the blood. Taking 3 caplets of OsteoSustain throughout the day (not all at once)* and 1 to 2 caplets of OsteoMineralBoost (also spread throughout the day)* gives a person between 665 mg and 805 mg supplemental calcium. With another 600 mg or so of calcium from the diet, this is PERFECT for someone with bone loss. In addition, with OsteoSustain and OsteoMineralBoost you are also getting bioavailable magnesium, vitamins D and K, and trace minerals...all important for utilizing the calcium and helping your body put this vital mineral where it your bones.

For the second question: Do calcium supplements cause kidney stones? With literally hundreds of research studies asking this exact question over the past 25 years you would think we would know the answer to this question. But studies have been conflicting. In an attempt to analyze all of this material, Candelas et al. (2012) did a systematic review from three sources to determine the answer. Candelas examined: 1) Medline and Embase from 1991 to 2010. 2) Cochrane Centered register of Controlled Trials up to 2010, and 3) Abstracts from the annual meetings of the American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism from 2008 thru 2010. Candelas' conclusion: "Calcium supplements in the treatment of osteoporosis alone or in combination with another type of treatment does not significantly increase the risk of nephrolithiasis or renal colic."

From both my clinical and personal experience, I know how important it is for people with osteoporosis to consume (and absorb) adequate calcium. This mineral is vital for improving bone health. But so too are vitamins D and K, and trace minerals. When taken on a regular basis, these nutrients will provide a safe and effective approach to improving skeletal health.  

*If you choose to take 3 OsteoSustain and 2 OsteoMineralBoost per day it is difficult to completely spread these 5 caplets out throughout the day by taking them one at a time. Therefore, it would be perfectly fine to take 2 caplets at a time. For example: Breakfast - 2 OsteoSustain, Lunch - 2 OsteoMineralBoost, Dinner - 1 OsteoSustain. (or any other combination you desire)  

Boland, M.J., et al. 2008. Vascular events in healthy older women receiving calcium supplementation: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. Feb 2,336(7638):262-6.

Boland M.J. and Reid I.R. 2011. Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: reanalysis of the Women's Health Initiative limited access data set and meta-analysis. BMJ. 342:d2040.

Hathcock, J.N. 2014. Vitamin and Mineral Safety, 3rd Edition. Council for Responsible Nutrition, pp 104-110.

Candelas, G., et al. 2012. Calcium supplementation and kidney stone risk in osteoporosis: a systematic literature review. Clinical and experimental rheumatology. Nov-Dec., 30(6):954-61.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hampshire ID Article

It was fun...and an be spotlighted by the Hampshire Daily Gazette in their weekly "ID" article. Here is the link:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teresa Maldonado Marchok's Blog

Teresa Maldonado Marchok wrote a very nice article about my book, The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis, in her most recent blog post. If you want to check it out go to:…/
Teresa is a physical therapist who knows a great deal about improving skeletal health through exercise.
Website design and website development by Confluent Forms LLC, Easthampton MA