• Nutrition and Scoliosis

    by Julia Sickler
    on Jun 20th, 2017

There is significant evidence which links nutrition to scoliosis.  This is very important because you may be able to prevent scoliosis by improving your diet.   If your child already has scoliosis, then nutrition alone isn’t going to fix scoliosis.  But good nutrition can help in these ways:

  1. Prevent the condition from getting worse
  2. Support scoliosis treatment (such as exercises, bracing or surgery)

Not to mention, since there may be a genetic component to scoliosis, it can also help prevent scoliosis progression in younger siblings.  Here we will talk about what nutrient deficiencies may cause scoliosis, including calcium, collagen, fat soluble vitamins, and magnesium.

Can Nutrient Deficiencies Cause Scoliosis?

Idiopathic scoliosis often gets summed up as a genetic disease. There may be a genetic component to scoliosis, but saying that “scoliosis is genetic” is an over-simplified answer to what causes scoliosis. Nutrition is one of the factors which can determine if the genetic predisposition is shown.

As you probably know, scoliosis is most common in children during growth spurts. As Dr. Kevin Lau points out, “scoliosis develops because of your body not being able to keep up with the aging process.” If children don’t have adequate nutrition during high-growth periods, then their spines may literally buckle.

Since calcium is what gives our bones strength, it isn’t surprising that scoliosis is clearly linked to low calcium intake (fyi: our bones are mostly made out of collagen and not calcium; calcium is woven in with the collagen to give them strength). In virtually all studies, people with scoliosis also had low bone density. Studies also positively link scoliosis to diseases like osteoporosis and osteopania. 

To dismiss scoliosis as a “genetic problem” is overlooking the bigger picture. In a nutshell, you’ve got to fix nutrient deficiencies if you want to prevent or treat scoliosis.

Taking Calcium Isn’t Enough to Treat Scoliosis

Calcium deficiency is clearly linked to scoliosis, but simply popping a calcium pill isn’t going to prevent or fix scoliosis. Nutrients in our bodies work together in really complex ways. For example, you need vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2 (along with other nutrients) to absorb calcium and carry it to your bones.  

This is why it is so important to optimize your diet holistically to treat scoliosis.   Supplements will never deliver all the right nutrients and their cofactors, nor in the proper ratios. Nature is much better at doing this, so always aim to get your nutrients from real foods and not from pills. Pills have their place, but never as a substitute for a good diet.

Unfortunately, scoliosis research is mostly focused on finding a specific gene for the disease so there isn’t as much human research on how nutrition causes scoliosis or affects treatment. But animal studies clearly show a link between nutrition and scoliosis though.   For example:

Author Julia Sickler Community Outreach Director, Certified Yoga Instructor, and Assistant Manager at Davis Integrated Medicine

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