Crumbly Bone Alert

leonardo_skeleton_1511Crumbly bones. Who wants crumbly bones? Who has crumbly bones? Who even wants to think about the idea that they have crumbly bones? I  mean, bone is the scaffolding for everything you are!

My husband is still in the working arena of medicine, and his job requires him to fix tendons, ligaments, and bones in people of all ages. He has been doing it for roughly 20 years. Increasingly, he is bothered by the fact that healthy people of all ages (including high school athletes) have poor bone integrity.

To do his job properly, he has to drill and pound nails, screws, and rods into bone, and it has to hold for a patient to have the desired outcomes. In recent years, he has noticed that unexpected surgical patients have what he calls “soft, crumbly” bone. Bone that is not hard and dense. Bones that you’d expect in elderly or chronically ill patients! Bones that break.

Shockingly, he has seen healthy high school athletes with poor bone quality. He has seen young, thirty-something mothers with the bone appearance and quality of a seventy-year old woman with osteoporosis, and he has even seen middle-aged men with bone too weak to hold anchors and nails well.

The integrity of our bones is deteriorating! “Bad to the Bone” for you people who think in song! When the doctors in the trenches are seeing things, it then takes years for it to come to the consciousness of the medical journals and finally reach the public it affects.  I don’t want to wait for you to hear about it! Osteoporosis is no longer an elderly adult problem. It is OUR problem: moms, kids, active people, sedentary gamers.

This “crumbly” bone trouble is going to increase until we address our society’s lifestyle and nutrition oversights. You will most likely see more fractures in young athletes and kids because their lifestyle is rampantly opposed to bone health.

I just wish I could drive home the connection between food, lifestyle, and the function of the body so that it was not cliché to people, but REAL! I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to say it so that I’m heard by the people who need it.

So what are the mistakes that we can reverse to help have strong, healthy bones that will last 90 years?

Move. Move. Move. 

Our kids need to move. They need to get off of iPads and iPhones and cell phones and away from the television. We adults need to move. How many hours are you physically sitting all day long? I challenge you to COUNT the hours. Physical movement of arms and legs promotes dense bones.

Lift. Lift. Lift.

Lift your children. Move your couch. Move ten books at a time. Move the rocks around your flower gardens. Go to the gym and learn how to lift weights or use weight machines. Bones respond positively to physical work.

Outside in the sun. Don’t use sunscreen or coverings except to avoid sun burning.

We don’t want sun burns, but this advice to “stay out of the sun” has gotten to be sickeningly dogmatic and alarming. Taking a human out of the sun is like taking a fish out of water. The sun is the best vitamin D supplement on Earth. And besides vitamin D, it has other effects we are only starting to learn about. Don’t burn, but get in the sun so you can have vitamin D for strong bones!

“NO” grain-based (this includes white flour) processed foods or snacks.

I hate to sound absolute, because rarely am I an absolutist in any area of my life, but limiting processed foods is a very important point; they usually are made from grains. Do NOT eat or feed your kids grain-based processed snacks and foods as routine nutrition. WORK HARD TO LIMIT THEM!

These include: Cliff bars, Nutri Grain bars, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Cheerios, Pop Tarts, bagels, granola bars, bread, buns, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and please help me name some more so moms can raise their awareness that these foods are “bad!” (Again, I hate to use the word “bad,” because I am not a black and white thinker, but it’s that important to me that you understand!) These foods can decrease the absorption of calcium and other bone-healthy minerals! They also replace vitamin and mineral-rich vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, and beans as food sources, because they are so cheap and so easy. Since these grain-based processed foods have become staples in people’s diets, it’s no wonder our bones are soft.

Do not rely on milk for calcium and vitamin D.

Make an effort to eat vegetables rich in calcium, like broccoli, arugula, and kale. Eat fish for vitamin D. Americans eat (drink) lots of dairy (particularly milk) fortified with vitamin D, and it is not decreasing osteoporosis or hip fracture rates. Something is wrong with our dairy picture. I don’t know what it is.

All I know is that despite the theoretical idea that our dairy consumption should be working to decrease hip fractures, the dairy we Americans rely on for bone health is not working. So use most dairy as a treat and to make your food taste better, but make it a point to get your calcium and vitamin D from other sources too! Please.

Doctors need to start talking about vitamin K2 and people need to start getting it.

There’s a vitamin that you will hear more about over the years, and I hope as people start making it a point to eat sources with it, that it does help toward improving bone quality. It’s called vitamin K2, and it helps vitamin D and calcium do their jobs properly, which you know helps bone strength. It’s not the same as vitamin K1 (in green vegetables); it has different effects. You can get it in liver; egg yolks; some hard, aged cheeses; and some fermented foods. Please learn about vitamin K2 and find out how you can incorporate foods with it into your diet.


We are what we eat, and studies show increasing rates of hip fractures and osteoporosis. Alarmingly, my husband comes home from a surgical day and shares with me that he is now operating on healthy young athletes with weak, soft bones. This shouldn’t be. Please, I beseech you! Look at your lifestyle and your food. Let’s work together to reverse this health crisis in our nation. It’s not up to doctors or the government. It’s up to you! And I believe in you! I know you can do it! I know we can do it together! It’s a trickle effect.

“They” told you to eat low fat and skip egg yolks. “They” tell you to not go outside without sunscreen. “They” shorten or eliminate recesses from kids’ schedules. Listen. You know what you need to do. Eat real, whole food, including eggs and diverse, unprocessed cheeses that you like and tolerate. Stay away from anything that you don’t make at home. Move. Get outside. Smile. Laugh. Forgive.

You want to be healthy. You want kids to be healthy. The desire is there, now put the foundation under it! If you don’t, the scaffolding WILL crumble. In fact, it is crumbling, even now in our youth. Let’s get at it!

Terri F

32 thoughts on “Crumbly Bone Alert

  1. Jean

    Just finished up learning about bone health in med school this week! I WAS(AM) SO PARANOID. Even though I supplement with Ca, Vit D and do plenty of weight bearing exercise, I still fear that I missed my window for building strong bones, since “early adulthood” (as we were taught is the cutoff for bone building) is pretty vague. As you know, I don’t like milk and I probably didn’t eat enough vegetables growing up. LOL.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Despite the marketing and permeating beliefs, milk doesn’t seem very remarkable at curbing hip fractures:
      “Greater milk consumption during teenage years was not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture in older adults.”
      “For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). ”

      I know I made a lot of mistakes eating growing up, and I thought I couldn’t “reverse” what damages I had done, but I am inclined now to feel that there can be reversal with good, intentional efforts! I’ve seen anecdotal reports of women diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis who worked hard, changed their diets and lives, and reversed their osteoporosis test findings. Haven’t seen any studies that then confirmed these women had lower hip fracture incidence, but as you know, it’s hard to get people to eat whole, real, unprocessed food that is nutrient dense–so it’s hard to do studies.

      Eat right! Good luck with exams! No stress. Bad for bones. 😉

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes! It shocks me every time he comes home and describes how he operated on a young person (approximately aged 15-35) who had bones that felt like a 70-80 year old. But also exciting (life in our house is never dull, ha!) when he comes home and talks about a 90 year-old woman who had bones as hard as a rock! I always tell him to ask those latter patients about what they eat for me.

      We do make K2 in our guts! But research really needs to elucidate how much we make, which people make more or less, etc. We also can make B12 and other B vitamins via our bacteria in our guts. It’s just so variable and unpredictable as to which people make “enough,” according to what I’ve read. So it will be interesting as they learn more and more about K2, as it is only fairly recently on their radar.

      Also, interestingly enough, we aren’t really clear on all the different forms of K2. There are many! Maybe 10 or so? And we’re not sure which foods are high in which ones. Or which ones our body “likes best.” Different “animal” livers have different amounts of the different K2 forms. Chicken feed is supplemented with a form of K converted to K2, so chicken often has K2. Certain cheeses contain K2 due to certain bacterial actions–but not other cheeses.

      It will be interesting to watch as we learn more.

      It’s hard for me to incorporate liver too. I basically bread it in cumin with a little salt, throw in some peppers and onions. That seems to be the only way my tongue tolerates it. Although, I do like chicken livers decently well.

      K2 is also in “spring” butter. It’s a “by-product” actually of bacteria

  2. Dr. Gabriella Kadar

    As a dentist who performs surgical extractions I can tell you exactly what makes for quality bone.
    I know it sounds entirely bizarre.

    At first I noticed with Italian patients that I needed to do serious troughing in the bone around teeth in order to get leverage with
    elevators to loosen roots. Then I was having the same experience with a Greek woman. I told her ‘you are Greek. Greeks don’t
    eat rapini but your bone is really tough’. She says “I love rapini. Ever since I live in Canada I eat rapini all the time’.

    Next up: A Filipina with a tooth that required sectioning, bone troughing etc……………. I made a comment about how people from
    the Philippines don’t eat rapini…………. I was duly corrected. She eats lots of rapini.

    What’s the deal with rapini. Doesn’t matter, Italian men, women: I won’t say they are ‘difficult’ extractions because I’m used to doing
    surgicals as opposed to putting a forceps on a tooth and luxating and removing…….which I did today on a totally Anglo Canadian. Easy
    peasy getting teeth out of this sort of person. They don’t eat rapini.

    This rapini business has played out over and over again over the past three years since I’ve been working in a new location. (My own patients
    rarely need to have a tooth removed… but other people’s patients, well, no comment).

    So I have no idea what is so special about rapini but if you want tough bones, eat plenty.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      That is so interesting. Rapini, if you’re reading and uncertain (and don’t want to Google, ha!), is called broccoli raab here in the US. It is the vegetable that looks like scrawny, skinny broccoli.

      As you move forward, if you see any other great teeth when they don’t eat rapini, would you ask about broccoli? I like to research diets for specific disease states, and broccoli shows up nearly every time as something that should be incorporated as much as possible. I was a big fan of broccoli anyhow, but even more so after all my reading. Rapini hasn’t been around the States’ supermarkets very long, but broccoli has (obviously); the two vegetables share certain nutritional qualilties–so I’d be interested to know if in your “case reports” you see that indulgent broccoli consumption might be similar.

      1. Dr. Gabriella Kadar

        I have asked about broccoli and many prefer rapini because there is no waste and a lot of people don’t want to peel the thick broccoli stalks. Rapini cooks evenly.
        However, both rapini and broccoli are contraindicated for people with diverticula.

        I think that magnesium intake is probably more of an issue in North American diets
        than calcium. Traditional diets that contain both magnesium rich foods and also sufficient
        calcium ought to be the way to produce healthy bones. (Of course there’s a need for
        protein. In the past few years I also learned that low B12 levels have an adverse effect
        on periodontal health.)
        Beef liver is not a dietary source of vitamin K2.
        This guy’s blog has a comprehensive entry on vitamin K:

        How much do we need? There was a presentation done by the Dutch researchers a number of years ago when they recommended that Vitamin K2 be added to foods much the same as folic acid and iodine. I don’t know what came of it and have no idea if there was influence peddling by industry. It is not difficult to obtain K2 supplements in Europe or the USA. In Canada only 120mcg doses are permitted by Health Canada. However, larger doses can be imported from the USA. iHerb for example ships it. There is a cornucopia of various strengths and combinations available on the market.

        Stephen Guyenet had an extensive comprehensive series of blog posts about vitamin K2 .
        Just one of several articles:

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Hello again! Thanks for the link. In the table from The Call of the Honeyguide blog, the Japanese study documented vitamin K2 content in beef liver of many forms and in nice, solid amounts. The study from Finland also documented several forms of K2 in beef liver, also in “fair” amount.

        When you look at the various forms of K2 in the US studies listed in the table, the only K2 documented is MK4. Perhaps those US studies did not look for other forms of vitamin K2 besides MK4? And I feel like the MK4 that was listed for beef and calf liver were variable, some quite high for natural K2 sources. So, to me, liver seems like a good source, with some natural variability (like all food sources seem to have).

        That would be interesting to follow what came of the Dutch experiment. And, yes, K2 supplements are easy to come by on-line.

        Stephen Guyenet is almost always a nice source in my mind.

        Thanks for commenting.

      3. Dr. Gabriella Kadar

        Your alternatives to rapini are turnip greens and mustard greens…. try a good old fashioned
        cooked southern greens recipe. Rapini is a type of mustard. Not broccoli.
        I’ve been growing my own vegetables during the warmer months and it is very interesting.
        Every so often a mustard plant will grow like a weed in the pathway near a raised bed.
        I let these grow because when they being to flower, I add the yellow flowers to salad.
        When radishes bolt, no problem. Either add their flowers to salad or wait until they grow pods and pickle them.
        It’s a situation where even if circumstances result in something other than the plan, there is still good food coming from these plants.

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Huh. Fascinating. Yes, I see now, more related to a turnip! Crazy! I’ve eaten it and just assumed!

        That’s good to know about radishes. Mine never taste good, maybe their flowers would.

      5. Dr. Gabriella Kadar

        You can add radishes with your other choices for roasted vegetables. Changes the flavour entirely. They get sweet and mild.
        There’s hope for even the grossest vegetables! LOL! I don’t like fresh radishes either.

    2. Jo tB

      In Holland Rapini is called broccolini and Wikipedia gives the following explanation.

      Broccolini (original Japanese: ブロッコリーニ[1]) is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. It is a natural hybrid of broccoli and gai lan (jie lan in mandarin Chinese; sometimes referred to as “Chinese Kale” or “Chinese Broccoli”), both cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea.

      Apparently it can also be called bimi.

      I generally eat a lot of broccoli, as that is more readily available in supermarkets. Still, I will eat more broccolini when I see it.

      Nice to know that it helps build strong bones.

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Hi, Jo! Thanks for the information you shared. Interesting that Dr. Kadar anecdotally noticed a rapini/teeth connection.

        I, too, eat a lot of broccoli over rapini. I just never really thought about it being different, and broccoli looked so much more robust. 🙂 Maybe I’ll have fun having a head-to-head taste test one day!

        Hope your gut is strong and well!


    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes! Genetics play a large role too! So they need to be proactive with their nutrition and lifestyles now! And do have them look up vitamin K2 and vitamin D since those are so important! Best wishes to you. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  3. Rach

    Wow! This is insane. Makes me feel glad I am back into my exercise regime and also like I must do better with the food my kids eat. Must do better.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I know! It’s crazy! And I don’t want anyone to feel fear or guilt (!!!!), but I also, if they possibly can, want them to take conscious efforts since it really is becoming an increasing problem! I remember your eating posts. I know you know how to do it! So good luck!

  4. Tim Steele

    Rapini is what we call Broccoli Raab. ( I always assumed it was just wimpy broccoli, and have never grown it. Will definitely try this year. I eat lots of kale and other greens all summer, and take D3 and K2 MK7 in the winter months.

    Getting people interested in exercising is soooo hard. I think people remember gym class and what a pain it was, but exercise can be fun and you really get to craving it. Getting started is the hardest part.

    Processed food, yep, not suitable for kids. Also juice drinks, French fries…or anything deep fried…fast food in general, most canned soup, deli meat, pretzels, potato chips, Doritos, etc., even lots of products designated as baby food are way too over processed and have chemicals added.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I know! It does look like wimpy broccoli!

      We make it a point in our house to get sources of D (in winter) and K2 (year round) also. I mix up the MK4 and MK7 from non-food sources because I haven’t decided which form I think benefits us best. I’ve read both camps. I’ve kind of tentatively decided maybe it’s like vitamin E, and getting several natural forms would be best. I don’t have time to link to all my reasons for that, so it’s just my personal idea for now. Also think maybe there’s conversion in the gut too.

      Thanks for rounding out my list. A friend also told me I left out crackers. 🙂 I love the article you put in your upcoming book that I previewed! The one on processed, ultra-processed, etc foods. I think that’s a great article.

      Take care!

  5. Pingback: Motivation to Eat Better | The HSD

  6. mandy

    I just started my blog while I begin a long recovery from osteoporosis-caused fracture. I wish I’d taken my diagnosis more serious when first scanned years ago. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, I was too young, and my doctor never made it sound serious. Now, at 65, I’m in big trouble. I’m very glad to have found your blog. Thank you.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Wow. I looked at your photos! I’m sorry! It’s not uncommon for osteoporotic bones to break and then a person fall. Sounds like that’s what you experienced???!! This put me to work on an osteoporosis post! Take care of yourself.—-Terri F

      1. mandy

        Thank you, yes, that’s exactly what happened to me. This is all new to me. Not the osteoporosis diagnosis, but the reality that the disease is real, that I have it, and I’ve much work to do now to find out how to live with it safely. Right now, I fear the future, that’ll I’ll be afraid to get up and move. But keeping bones stronger requires movement. I will watch for your post!

      2. mandy

        Oh, wow! I hadn’t seen that before. It’s fantastic. I’ve just perused a lot of it and saved it. A wealth of info and exercise videos. Thanks so much!!

  7. Rebecca K

    Please include soda. Especially diet soda will deteriorate bone. A friend of mine had a spine bone fracture after a surgery because of Coke Zero (or diet, forget which).

    I had a bimalleolar fracture that healed quickly with lots of supplements (inc. strontium) & lots of food. I was going to be in Vegas when it was time to have to boot removed so I went in 11 days early and he said I could take it off & start walking on it. I swelled up like crazy but I never needed the crutches again.


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