Q. I am 17 years old and was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis due to anorexia. I am hesitant to start taking a drug for osteoporosis because it seems that it can have bad side effects.

Have you heard about any natural remedies? I have seen a few studies online citing that ground eggshells can help replenish calcium and reverse osteoporosis, but I wondered if you had seen any information about eggshells or other at-home treatments. Thank you!

A. Osteoporosis can be a complication of anorexia. Because you are still young you may be able to build bone back.

The first step is to provide your brittle bones with the nutrients they need, and eggshells may play a role here. You also need to offer them a bit of a challenge in the form of normal body weight and weight-bearing exercise (walking, running, dancing, tennis or something else you enjoy besides swimming).

Although bisphosphonate drugs (Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax) can be helpful for older women with osteoporosis, it’s not clear that they are effective or safe for adolescents (Current Opinions in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, Dec. 2011).
Powdered eggshell can be used as a calcium supplement (British Journal of Nutrition, March, 2002). Be sure to choose eggs from organically raised chickens and wash them well in boiling water before letting them dry. After a few days, break them into small pieces with your fingers and grind them into a powder in a coffee or spice grinder.

One eggshell provides roughly 800 mg of calcium, approximately a day’s worth. Taken together with magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K, that should provide your bones with the building blocks they need to grow stronger. You can get magnesium and vitamin K from green leafy vegetables, which also provide plant sources of calcium.

Good luck to you! Overcoming anorexia is a challenge, but with motivation and assistance you can do it and help your body heal itself.

Older women concerned about osteoporosis and brittle bones will likely benefit more from the medications used to treat this condition. They do have side effects, however, and it is well to be aware of them before starting on the drug. We offer information about the pros and cons of a range of therapies for weakened bones in our Guide to Osteoporosis.

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  1. nb

    Our Vietnamese friends boil eggs with Raman Noodles and soups, plus they add thinly shredded greens just before serving it. They top the Raman with the eggs, slicing them. Their reason for this for the extra nutrients and calcium it produces. They told us that in Vietnam they boil tiger bones for use to keep the “old” people from getting soft bones. Good to go back to the soup bone in soup, then give it to the dog for his bones too.
    The greens and boiled eggs are tasty with the Raman. I now make it that way.

  2. J.L.

    Would this be helpful for senior adults, and can the ground egg shells be incorporated into recipes? Enjoy your columns and have received many helpful suggestions. Thanks, J.L.

  3. cpmt

    almonds also are good in calcium.

  4. Karen

    Good diet, + load bearing exercise. Part of the reason osteoporosis sets in is that there’s no load on your bones, so that they become only as strong as they need to be. Weightlifting, within reason and within the bounds of your recovery program, will help put mild stress on your bones. They’ll respond by laying down more strength, as long as you’re providing the raw materials in what you eat.
    You might look at Silica supplements, too–they help make the matrix itself stronger, which makes your bones more resilient and less brittle.

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