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Jarrow Bone Up Review

Jarrow Bone Up is a calcium complex sold in natural food stores. The supplement is positioned as a complete multi-nutrient bone formula. The type of calcium used is hydroxyappatite (also called ossein hydroxyappatite).  Calcium hydroxyapatite is composed of calcium (approx. 24%), phosphorus (10%), Jarrow-Bone-Up-Review | Review Articleprotein (22%), trace minerals and glycosaminoglycans found naturally in the bone matrix.  Bone Up also features nine other nutrients. 

Disagreement in Research Benefits
The company notes that Bone Up has been used in a clinical trial.  According to  the article entitled  “Effects of micronutrient supplementation plus resistance exercise training on bone metabolism markers in young adult woman” (Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, (16, 1 February 2007, pages 26 – 32).  Disilvestroa et al found that college aged women who exercised and took Jarrow Bone-Up  increased certain blood and urine markers related to bone health versus those who just exercised. The eight-week study was too short to measure changes in bone density.

Most  experts believe that calcium is the most important nutrient in determining long term bone health, followed closely by vitamin D.  The calcium hydroxyappatite studies in Jarrow Bone Up are limited.  Calcium hydroxyapatite helped prevent bone loss or increase bone mineral density when taken with drugs in five studies (Epstein, 1982, Pines, 1984, Castelo Branco 1999, Pelayo 2008, Fernandes-Parejo 2007).

Not all researchers find the calcium hydroxyapatite research compelling, because of the concurrent prescription drug use. Perhaps its most impressive study result involved an increase in forearm bone mineral density (BMD) in one study involving postmenopausal women. While certainly beneficial, forearm BMD does not carry the medical importance of the hip or spine bone strength in terms of fracture risk.  Calcium studies typically measure hip or spine changes.

Straub recommends against taking calcium hydroxyapatite in Calcium supplementation in clinical practice: a review of forms, doses, and indications.” (Nutritional Clinical Practitioner (2007 (3):286-96):

“Calcium from carbonate and citrate are the most common forms of calcium supplements. Calcium carbonate, the most cost-effective form, should be taken with a meal to ensure optimal absorption. Calcium citrate can be taken without food and is the supplement of choice for individuals with achlorhydria or who are taking histamine-2 blockers or protein-pump inhibitors. Calcium lactate and calcium gluconate are less concentrated forms of calcium and are not practical oral supplements. Research on hydroxyapatite as a source of calcium is limited, so this form of calcium is not recommended.“

Comparison to Other Calciums
Like any good calcium, Jarrow Bone Up appears to offer certain bone benefits. The research suggests that this type of calcium is effective when taken with bone prescription drugs. Those studies do not answer what bone density effect, if any, this calcium has if taken alone. Unfortunately, the study with Jarrow Bone Up provides little insight.

Jarrow-Bone-Up-Review | Review ArticleEffective calcium alone studies exist.  AdvaCAL calcium, for example, has shown increased bone density – without drugs or vitamin D -- in multiple long term trials involving the critical bones such as the spine. Studies were done on postmenopausal women and men and elderly women.

Jarrow Bone Up is a popular health food brand.  However, there is little evidence to suggest that less expensive supermarket calcium supplements may perform as well with bone density as Jarrow Bone Up.