Bone density supplements provide the vitamin and mineral support necessary to prevent osteoporosis and arthritis.
Bone density supplements are particularly important for women over 30. But they can also alleviate arthritis symptoms in men and help them avoid debilitating late-in-life fractures.
There are more than 100 bone density supplements on the market today. Trying to figure out which are worth your money can be a time-consuming task.
Our research team put them all to the test and determined that the following represent the best bone density supplements of 2021.
1. Essential Elements Bone Boost
The makers of Bone Boost understand that a supplement is only effective if the body accepts it. Many low-quality supplement ingredients wind up in the toilet. Bone Boost calcium, however, is specially formulated to be absorbed by the body.
What we like: The calcium in Bone Boost exhibits a high degree of bioavailability. Bone Boost complements the activity of that calcium with vitamins D3 and K2, both of which enhance the structural integrity of the bone.
Flaws: Using the most effective ingredients costs more. Which means the final product does too. We feel it’s worth it.
2. Jarrow Formulas Bone-up
Jarrow Bone-Up addresses all the structural and nutritional needs of your skeletal system so you can navigate the best years of your life without worrying about broken bones or osteoporosis.
What we like: Jarrow understands that the bone matrix is comprised of more than just calcium. As such, they address bone density and strength from both a structural and nutritional point of view.
Flaws: May contain trace amounts of soy.
3. Pure Synergy Bone Renewal
Pure Synergy Bone Renewal uses plant-based calcium that exhibits outstanding bioavailability. This type of calcium is more easily absorbed by the body than what is sourced from limestone or other non-organic materials.
What we like: The calcium used here is extracted from Icelandic red algae, which tells you something about the company’s commitment to providing pure, potent ingredients. All Pure Synergy supplements are vegetarian-friendly and free of GMOs.
Flaws: That Icelandic red algae is not cheap.
4. Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow
Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow is a different type of supplement that leverages the power of bone marrow extracted from grass-fed cows. It’s a unique approach that enhances the integrity of bones, teeth, and connective tissues.
What we like: Bovine bone marrow is one of the most effective ingredients available for bolstering the integrity of your bones from the inside out. This hard to find ingredient is put to optimal use here and will start working immediately to strengthen and repair tired bones.
Flaws: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their doctor before taking bovine bone marrow.
5. Garden of Life Grow Bone System
Garden of Life is well-known for their commitment to high-quality, natural ingredients. Here they provide calcium gleaned from gut-friendly organic algae, and organically grown foods. They complement that calcium with a generous dose of magnesium, as well as vitamins K, D, and C.
What we like: The calcium here is not sourced from limestone or other rocks. Instead, it is extracted from purely organic sources, meaning there are no compatibility issues with your human physiology.
Flaws: Contains boron which, in rare cases, may produce stomach upset or diarrhea.
6. One Elevated Comprehensive Bone Builder
One Elevated provides one of the largest doses of calcium you will find in a bone density supplement. A full 1000 mg in each capsule. They enhance the effectiveness of that calcium with an array of complementary minerals, including magnesium and zinc.
What we like: This is a well-rounded bone density supplement that covers all the bases. There is calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins D3 and K and the amino acid L-Lysine, which aids in protein synthesis and helps ward off osteoporosis.
Flaws: Vegans be aware it is processed in a facility that also processes fish.
7. Doctor’s Best Bone Maker
Doctor’s Best supplements are always highly effective and free of questionable ingredients. Bone Maker leverages the proven bone-building ability of olive leaf extract. It is a calcium-free supplement that strengthens bones by supporting the work of osteoblasts.
What we like: New bone tissue is built on a foundation of osteoblasts. Without a proper supply, bone production grinds to a halt. Bone Maker provides the osteoblasts necessary to strengthen and repair weak or damaged bones.
Flaws: While the olive leaf extract is great, we would have loved to see some calcium and magnesium too.
8. Caltrate Gummy Bites
Not everyone is able or willing to swallow large supplement capsules. Some prefer to get the nutrients they need via liquids, or in this case, gummies. Caltrate Gummy Bites are an easy way for anyone, particularly older individuals, to increase bone density without worrying about choking.
What we like: The problem with a lot of gummy supplements is that they taste like shoe leather. These Gummy Bites from Caltrate are actually quite tasty. If you are looking for an alternative to capsules, this is better than most.
Flaws: Not meant for kids.
9. New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care
All the calcium in New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care capsules is derived from plant sources. That’s good because plant-based calcium is more easily absorbed by the body. Take Care takes care to address bone density from both structural and maintenance perspectives.
What we like: Provides 770 mg of calcium in each tablet, alongside magnesium, and vitamins K1 and K2, and vitamin D3. This supplement is vegan-friendly, Kosher, GMO-free, and free of all common food allergens.
Flaws: A wee bit short on the magnesium for some reason.
10. Life Extension Bone Restore
Last but not least, is Life Extension Bone Restore. This is another well-rounded, well-considered bone density supplement that bolsters bone strength while fending off long-term degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis.
What we like: Contains a generous dose of magnesium, along with the important vitamins D3 and K2. Also, it includes calcium malate, which is considered a more potent form of the mineral.
Flaws: Four capsules per serving will be a bit much for some people.
Who Needs Bone Density Supplements?
Considering that they are several times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, and that they are twice as likely to develop arthritis than men, women are the obvious answer. Particularly women over 50. Beyond that age, women begin to show a dramatic reduction in estrogen production, and that has the effect of undermining bone density and strength.
But it does not make a lot of sense to wait until bone density problems are knocking on the door to start taking these supplements. A much better course of action is to start taking them in your 30s. That way, you give yourself a fighting chance of preventing osteoporosis outright.
Men should also consider taking bone density supplements because women are not the only ones who become susceptible to devastating fractures later in life. In addition, bone density supplements provide a range of other benefits that should not be overlooked, including benefits for heart and mind.
How We Ranked
Ranking bone density supplements is not as straightforward as it might seem. There are actually quite a few variables to consider.
We started by eliminating any supplements that were not produced in an FDA-certified facility. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements per se. But they do provide production guidelines that supplement makers are encouraged to adhere to. Production facilities that live up to those guidelines earn the FDA certification. Those that don’t, don’t, and are not worth bothering with.
Next, we shifted our attention to the ingredient list. There are a few staples that are essential to maintaining bone density and overall bone health in general. They are calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D. We wanted to see some or all of these in a supplement unless there was a good reason for excluding them.
Such is the case with our #2 supplement, Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow. It depends entirely on the bone-bolstering efficacy of bovine bone and cartilage. It is a more expensive type of supplement to be sure. And about the only one that does not need other ingredients to prop it up.
The amount of each ingredient was the next consideration. We look poorly upon supplements that skirt full disclosure by hiding behind a ‘proprietary blend’ label. We want to see what we are getting and how much. If a particular supplement did not list quantities, it did not make our list.
Finally, we considered the reputation of the manufacturer, and whether they have a history of providing high-quality supplements, or if they spend all their time in court defending themselves against lawsuits.
Bone density supplements help prevent osteoporosis. Bone density tends to remain fairly stable until people enter their 40s. At that time, physiological changes occur, particularly in women, that begin the process of bone degradation. Primary among these is the onset of osteoporosis (1). Left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to devastating bone fractures later in life. Bone density supplements can help stave off osteoporosis.
Bone density supplements can reduce some of the worst symptoms of arthritis. Arthritis also tends to first appear when people reach their 40s. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are characterized by inflammation of the joints, pain, and stiffness. People with compromised bones are more likely to develop arthritis and suffer more severe symptoms. Bone density supplements can help reduce the severity of those symptoms.
Bone density supplements contain magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals when it comes to the day to day operation of the human body (2). It is found in every one of your cells and plays a crucial role in energy production, gene maintenance, and the formation of proteins. It also helps to ensure the integrity of your bones. So when you take a bone density supplement, you help every aspect of your body function more smoothly.
Bone density supplements may reduce high blood pressure. Calcium is one of the most important ingredients in bone density supplements. As it turns out, both calcium and magnesium also play a role in regulating blood pressure (3). Calcium helps blood vessels retain their elasticity so that they expand when you’re active, and more blood is flowing, and they contract when you are inactive, and blood flow is reduced. At the same time, magnesium plays a regulatory role.
Bone density supplements can enhance your workouts. The stronger bones that result from the bone density supplement will be better able to withstand the stress and strain of a workout. Also, magnesium plays a crucial role in energy production (4). So you will be able to power through your workout thanks to the magnesium, and you’ll be able to lift more and perform with greater confidence due to the calcium.
Bone density supplements are good for your heart. As we saw above, calcium and magnesium play an important role in regulating blood pressure. That, in turn, is good for your heart. Vitamin K, another common ingredient in most bone density supplements, also plays a role in keeping blood pressure low by preventing the buildup of minerals in the arteries.
Bone density supplements may reduce the risk of certain cancers. In a study whose results took many by surprise, it was found that calcium supplementation may play a role in preventing colorectal cancer (5). Not only that, but the protective benefits provided by calcium apparently extend up to five years after the point a person stops taking the calcium. That benefit even extends to high-risk individuals.
Bone density supplements are also good for your teeth. Calcium is vital to the production and maintenance of healthy teeth (6). Numerous research studies have concluded that many people do not get enough calcium from their ordinary diet. Fortunately, bone density supplements are almost all loaded with calcium. So they are not only good for your skeletal system, but they will also help ensure healthy teeth as you age.
Bone density supplements may reduce inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s normal immune system response. But in some cases, inflammation goes haywire and is responsible for myriad health problems, including arthritis. Magnesium has been shown to exert a regulatory effect on inflammation (7). As such, it may be useful in alleviating symptoms from a variety of ailments, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.
Bone density supplements may reduce the risk of kidney stones. This may seem counterintuitive, but research indicates that supplemental calcium may actually have a role to play in reducing incidents of kidney stones (8). We say ‘counterintuitive’ because, until recently, it was believed that calcium supplements actually contributed to the development of kidney stones.
Bone density supplements may help fight depression. Just as magnesium is important to bone density and virtually all metabolic processes, it is also vitally important to proper brain function (9). But the magnesium in your bone density supplement does more than just grease the wheels of your mind. It also plays an active role in regulating mood and may be useful as part of a treatment regime for depression (10).
Bone density supplements may help fight migraines. The magnesium in bone density supplements is not only good for building strong bones, keeping your blood pressure low and fighting depression, it may also help reduce the severity of migraines (11). Exactly how it does this is not entirely understood yet, but it is believed to have something to do with magnesium facilitating cortical blood flow.
Bone density supplements may promote weight loss. The calcium in your bone density supplement has a complex relationship with body fat. But one thing that is known for sure is that it plays a role in breaking down fat cells. Higher calcium levels within cells reduces the number of fat cells created by the body. Calcium also binds to fat in the digestive tract and prevents it from being absorbed and taking up residence around your waist.
Bone density supplements may help prevent type 2 diabetes. Almost half the people suffering from type 2 diabetes have low levels of magnesium in their blood. Researchers believe such low levels of magnesium interfere with the effectiveness of insulin. That, in turn, leads to high blood glucose levels and increases susceptibility to type 2 (adult onset) diabetes (12). The magnesium in bone density supplements can help prevent this.
Bone density supplements can alleviate symptoms of PMS. Calcium, as it turns out, has a lot of surprising benefits. Another one of which is the apparent ability to help alleviate some of the worst symptoms of PMS (x). Researchers noted that women who took calcium supplements experienced less moodiness during the days preceding their period than did women who did not take calcium (13).
Bone density supplements are good for your brain. We have already seen that the magnesium in bone density supplements may help alleviate depression and reduce migraine frequency and intensity. But magnesium is not the only ingredient in bone density supplements that is good for your brain. Vitamin K has been found to have a significant effect on the memory of older individuals (14).
Bone density supplements can enhance physical performance. Both magnesium and calcium have a direct impact on your ability to perform physically. Magnesium by bolstering bone integrity and facilitating energy production and release. And calcium by regulating muscle contraction, which is so critical to physical performance. So if you want to get more from your health club membership, take your bone density supplements.
Bone density supplements have few side effects. Bone density supplements are blissfully free of side effects for the vast majority of people. In those rare instances when side effects do occur, they are typically mild and may include bloating, constipation or gas. If one were to take extremely large doses of magnesium, one might experience diarrhea or fatigue. Those with kidney problems should talk to their doctor before taking vitamin K.
Bone density supplements are affordable. The cost of dealing with hip fractures in older individuals is staggering (15), typically more than $50,000. And that is not to mention the cost of rehabilitation. In addition, allowing your bones to become weak and brittle will lead to a greatly reduced quality of life. For just pennies per day, bone density supplements can help prevent those fractures and enhance overall quality of life.
Bone density supplements are safe and effective. This has been proven in numerous studies. They are a simple, common-sense way to enhance the strength of your bones so you can make the most of your todays and ensure happy and healthy tomorrows.
Q: What is a bone density supplement?
A: A bone density supplement contains vitamins, minerals, and (sometimes) other ingredients that are crucial to maintaining strong, healthy bones. Bone density supplements are particularly important for older women who suffer from osteoporosis much more frequently than men (16). But bone density supplements are a good idea for most adults, because they can help ensure weak, brittle bones do not become an issue in old age.
Q: Why should I take a bone density supplement?
A: If you are a woman facing middle or old age, you are doubtless aware that bone health is a major concern. There are numerous reasons why women suffer from bone-related conditions more than men (17), including the fact that their bones are usually thinner than men’s bones to begin with. And once a woman reaches menopause, the amount of estrogen she produces typically drops sharply. But men are not immune to osteoporosis either.
Q: What is in a bone density supplement?
A: The most common minerals in bone density supplements are calcium and magnesium. These two minerals play a vital role in overall bone health, so if your bone density supplement does not include one or both, you need to ask why. Many bone density supplements also include vitamin K, which bolsters bone mineral density, helps in mineral absorption, reduces the chance of fractures, and modulates calcium balance (18).
Q: Are bone density supplements safe?
A: Yes, bone density supplements are safe. The minerals, vitamins, and other compounds in these supplements are well known to science and their mechanisms well-understood. Bone density supplements do not contain any controlled substances, any addictive substances, or anything known to cause adverse side effects.
Q: Will bone density supplements make my bones stronger?
A: Yes, in most cases bone density supplements will make a person’s bones stronger. Provided, of course, that the person has bones that need strengthening, and that they take the supplement as directed.
Q: Can bone density supplements prevent osteoporosis?
A: It is almost impossible to prove a negative. That is, prove that something did not happen. All we really have to go on is data gleaned from various health studies over the years. Those studies strongly suggest that they can increase bone density, which, in theory, should reduce the risk of osteoporosis (19). They also show that older women who take bone density supplements are less likely to suffer a bone fracture than women who do not.
Q: Can bone density supplements prevent arthritis?
A: Yes, it is possible the right type of bone density supplement may prevent osteoarthritis (20). And if it does not prevent it, this type of supplement may at least delay the onset of osteoarthritis. Bone density supplements can also reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis. They do that by strengthening both the bone and cartilage and reducing inflammation, a major cause of the pain and stiffness associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Q: How long before I see benefits from a bone density supplement?
A: It depends upon which benefit you are tracking. If you are taking bone density supplements to reduce symptoms of arthritis, you may start to see some improvement in pain and stiffness in a matter of weeks. If you are concerned about osteoporosis and are taking a bone density supplement to try and fend it off, it could well be years before you realize you have not developed that bone-wasting disease, thanks to your bone density supplements.
Q: Why is bone density so important?
A: Most people take their bones for granted until they fracture one. But bones keep us upright, enable movement, and allow us to perform both simple and complex tasks. As we age, our bone density begins to decline, opening the door to potentially life-altering fractures (21). It is particularly important for women, who are many times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, to do what they can to retain bone density.
Q: Is it safe to consume bovine cartilage?
A: Some bone density supplements contain ground up bovine cartilage. This makes some people uneasy. But is there any reason to be nervous about consuming bovine cartilage? According to medical science, it is not only safe, but the practice of consuming bovine cartilage is widespread. It is used to treat everything from poison ivy, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, acne, osteoarthritis, and more (22).
Q: Do I need a prescription for a bone density supplement?
A: Because bone density supplements do not contain any controlled substances or otherwise addictive or dangerous ingredients, they are available without a prescription. They can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies, supermarkets, or through myriad online outlets.
Q: Are there any side effects to taking bone density supplements?
A: The main ingredients in most bone density supplements are calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D. None of these are known to produce any notable side effects unless taken in large quantities. For instance, if you consume large amounts of magnesium, you may experience an upset stomach or diarrhea. But the amounts found in bone density supplements are modest and typically pose no threat of side effects.
Q: How do I know if I need a bone density supplement?
A: Middle age is the surest indicator that a person needs to think about a bone density supplement. But there are other things to look for too. If you have suffered more than one fractured bone in recent years, that is a warning sign. If you are naturally thin, drink more than a few alcoholic drinks per day, are lactose intolerant (23), or have ever suffered from an eating disorder, you should consider a bone density supplement (24).
Q: Can anyone take a bone density supplement?
A: Yes, unless specifically told not to by a doctor, any otherwise healthy adult should be able to take bone density supplements without worry. And because they pay handsome dividends in other areas besides bone health, even younger adults with no particular bone density issues will likely benefit from taking them.
Q: Do women need bone density supplements more than men?
A: As a general rule, yes. The need for women to take bone density supplements is typically greater than for men. Women typically have smaller bones than men, which makes their proper upkeep particularly important. Women are also many times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, as we have seen. They are also more likely to suffer from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (25).
Q: What is the right age to start taking a bone density supplement?
A: When it comes to bone density supplements, researchers have not determined an ideal age to start taking them. But as a general rule, women should consider taking them once they pass 30. Starting young will likely pay handsome dividends. It can help prevent the onset of both osteoporosis and arthritis, and potentially prevent a devastating fracture later in life.
Q: How can I tell if a bone density supplement is working?
A: Bone density supplements are like multivitamins that act in subtle ways. The clearest indication that they are working is that you do not develop osteoporosis or arthritis and do not suffer a broken bone later in life. You may, however, notice other benefits of a bone density supplement fairly quickly. For instance, you may notice an improvement in your workouts or mood, or you may suffer less severe PMS symptoms and fewer migraines.
Q: Which bone density supplement is best?
A: Above we have provided 10 bone density supplements our research indicates are the best on the market. While most contain more or less the same primary ingredients, they tend to provide them in different amounts. The best thing to do is to consult your doctor and determine which formulation would be most beneficial for you.
Q: Are bone density supplements expensive?
A: No, bone density supplements are very affordable. Typically just pennies a day. When you consider all the physical problems they can help prevent or treat, they are really quite an extraordinary healthcare value.
Bone density supplements help prevent the onset of osteoporosis and arthritis. They are also among the best-known ways to ensure you do not wind up a victim of a serious fracture later in life. And they provide a wealth of secondary benefits that affect heart, mind, teeth, blood, and more.
Bone density supplements are affordable, safe, and effective. You do not need a prescription to purchase them, and they produce virtually no side effects. Whether you are 30, 50, or 70+, bone density supplements have a multitude of important benefits to offer.
Use the information provided above to determine which bone density supplement is right for you.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended bone density supplement, click here