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The Calcium Myth

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Why calcium isn’t all bad
We have nothing against calcium. It’s an essential mineral necessary for good health. But bone health doesn’t depend on taking lots of calcium. Just look at these studies:

  • Four worldwide epidemiological surveys show that the nations that consume the most calcium have the highest rates of hip fracture.
  • One epidemiological study correlated hip fractures with the amount of animal and vegetable protein various countries consume. As animal food consumption increases, so do hip fractures.
  • Since 1975, 136 trials have explored calcium’s effects on osteoporotic fracture risk. Two-thirds of these studies show that high calcium intake yields no reduction in the number of fractures–even if people begin taking calcium (with vitamin D) during childhood.
  • In one study, Harvard researchers surveyed diet and hip fractures among 72,337 older women for 18 years. They concluded, “Neither milk nor a high-calcium diet appears to reduce [fracture] risk.”
  • Another Harvard team analyzed seven trials that followed 170,991 women for several years and found “no association between total calcium intake and hip fracture risk.”

So why the almost monomaniacal emphasis on calcium? Because your body needs it. Calcium supports the structure and function of your bones and your teeth. So, the logic goes, since your body needs a lot of calcium, you should consume lots of dairy, which is high in calcium. But here’s where that theory breaks down: Think of calcium as the bricks in a brick wall of bones. Bricks are essential, for sure, but without enough mortar–which comes in the form of about 16 other nutrients–the wall can’t hold itself up. So, yes, you do need calcium, but you must supply the body with the right kind of calcium–which does not come from dairy products–along with plenty of other vitamins and minerals.

A better bone-health diet
In order to get the right balance of bricks and mortar, so to speak, you need a diet that’s packed with fruits and vegetables and includes few (if any) high-protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, and dairy. Why? Strange as it may sound, good bone health begins in the bloodstream–and a high-protein diet acidifies the blood. For the body to function properly, the blood must maintain a pH (relative acidity or alkalinity) that’s slightly alkaline.

Protein is composed of amino acids. As the body digests high-protein foods, amino acids flood the bloodstream. The body must then neutralize these acids to avoid life-threatening problems, including osteoporosis. To do so, the body draws from its own reservoir of alkaline material, such as the calcium compounds stored in bone. The bones release their calcium, which eventually gets excreted in urine. Unfortunately, as many studies suggest, the more dietary protein we consume, the more acidic the blood becomes and the more calcium the body must leach from the bones to bring the blood’s pH back into balance.

While dairy does contain ample calcium, it’s also highly acidic. So if you drink milk (or eat a lot of animal protein) and don’t include plenty of alkalizing foods, your diet will–ironically–suck more calcium from bone than it provides, and eventually cause osteoporosis.

Next: Vegetable proteins

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Health, Osteoporosis, , , ,

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Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living.

86 comments

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8:35AM PST on Nov 23, 2011

Scary. I don't know how to eat anymore.

2:49AM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

Great article. Thank you.

12:09AM PDT on Jul 31, 2010

Thank you for this article, Mel. How do I "Note" this?

6:21PM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

cutting out fluoride from your life (e.g if you can at least throw out the toothpaste with fluoride and mouthwash with fluoride) can help bone health too

Fluoride is linked to osteosarcoma and effects bones in all the body. (plus fluoride lowers IQ too)

fluoridealert.org has a free video on health

facts: http://www.fluoridealert.org/fluoride-facts.htm

2:06PM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

Being lactose intolerant I've always been concerned about calcium. This is good news indeed. Thanks for the reference.

8:18AM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

I grew up in New York and remember drinking milk all the time even when I was thirsty. I loved it. Had a one a day vitamin. When I was 12 yrs old (50yrs ago)I came back to Greece with my mom and brother. Milk was very rare here. The only kind they had back then was evaporated milk which tastes yuck (at least to me). Although we didn't drink milk on a daily basis we got our nutritions through fresh fruits and veggies, always in season, red meat once a week only, fresh fish, salads with our meals and only once or at the very most twice a week a dessert.
Thats excactly how I raised my kids. There was a time McDonalds was new here and my kids went nuts over having a Big Mac (everything frozen flown in from the states).I'm glad they got over it very quickly. The bottom line is: When we eat fresh and in season and avoid additives & preserves we don't need vitamines, supplements or any of those modern medications doctors and advertasments tell us we need, we can stay healthy.

7:16AM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

Thanks.

7:39PM PST on Dec 13, 2009

:D i'm going to show this to my mom so she'll finally get off my case with the whole "you'll die if you don't drink milk!" thing.

4:09PM PDT on Oct 5, 2009

Lisa B.
Sorry,here is the source:

http://www.unhinderedliving.com/ph.html

Thewre are many ways of losing calcium-breathing is one of many.

If you read my previous answers, I referred to balance-milk is not a preferred source for calcium that it has been made out to be-please, read my answers on this same article. Our bodies are not made to process even human milk as adults, much less another animals with different composition, nutritive, and immuno values.v

3:49PM PDT on Oct 5, 2009

I am sorry Clyde but I am confused. You have said that a can of soda causes the body to withdraw 20mg of bone calcium. The opinion piece didn't say that. The links you gave didn't say that either. So where is your source?

And now you are agreeing that your body balances blood pH by breathing? So the reason for not drinking milk is because there are better sources of calcium? Is that what you are saying?

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