Bones are very important. They hold us up, they protect certain organs, they facilitate movement and they serve as mineral storage. Healthy bones need proper nutrients, a balanced pH and some form of weight bearing exercise. Proper nutrition for bones means a form of calcium that the body can easily assimilate. Not all forms are equal. Plant sources are the best. Include lots of broccoli and dark greens in your diet. For supplements, look for herbal calcium. Calcium citrate and calcium citrate-malate are the most absorbable conventional supplements; calcium carbonate the least. Other good calcium for bones include micro-crystallized hydroxya-petite and chelated calciums. Proper nutrition for bones also means other minerals such as magnesium, boron and silica. Magnesium needs to be emphasized. If you are magnesium deficient, supplementing calcium will not build bone, but will deposit calcium in your soft tissues. However, when adequate magnesium is supplied, calcium levels rise even without direct supplementation. The ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium is somewhere between 2:1 and 1:1. Adequate stomach acid is essential to proper assimilation of calcium. Bone spurs are a symptom of insufficient stomach acid. Antacids are not good sources of calcium, because they decrease stomach acid. Supplementing digestive enzymes can help assimilation of calcium. Balanced pH is very important since the body uses calcium to neutralize an acid pH. Remember from last week’s column, if you are not eating enough alkaline foods to balance your intake of acid foods, the neutralizing substance will come from your bones. Eat balanced. Sodas are especially bad for our bones. They are very acid forming, especially the diet sodas. Sodas also contain phosphates which can not be assimilated without calcium in proper ratio. If you are not consuming calcium with your soda, your body will get what it needs from your bones. If you are concerned about bone health, cut out sodas. Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a herb, vitamin and health food store in Mason, Texas.