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The Calcium Myth

What about vegetable proteins?
Many Americans believe they can’t get adequate protein if they don’t eat animal foods. This is not true. Nutritionists agree that vegetarians can get more than enough protein for good health. In fact, the diseases that kill most Americans (heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes) are all closely linked to diets too high in animal foods. That’s why a low-acid diet not only helps prevent osteoporosis, it can also reduce your risk of Western society’s major killers.

Although fruits and vegetables do contain enough protein to keep you healthy, their protein counts are much lower than those of animal foods. But when you eat fruits and veggies, only a small amount of acid enters the bloodstream, along with a great deal of alkaline material that immediately neutralizes the acid. As a result, the body doesn’t need to draw calcium compounds from bone, resulting in healthier bones.

Meat, fish, poultry, and dairy, on the other hand, contain five to 10 times more protein per serving than fruits and veggies–and very little alkaline material–which means the blood’s acidity level skyrockets and the body must look to bone for additional calcium to neutralize it.

Healthy bones: the whole picture
Although fracture studies show that increasing calcium doesn’t prevent breaks, research on bone-mineral density (BMD)–which measures the amounts of calcium and other minerals in your bones–says otherwise. By a slim majority, studies found that calcium improves BMD. So how do we explain this apparent contradiction? By remembering that bones are more than calcium and that strong, fracture-resistant bones require a balance of calcium and at least 16 other nutrients. Once again, consuming lots of calcium but not enough of the other nutrients is like building a brick wall without enough mortar. The wall may look strong, but it isn’t.

In fact, more than 100 studies have explored the effects of fruits and vegetables on BMD. Although calcium improved BMD in 52 percent of studies focused on the mineral, fruits and vegetables improved BMD in 85 percent of more than 100 studies on these foods. That’s no surprise, since fruits and veggies contain not only calcium but plenty of other bone-building nutrients as well.

Remember, how you live your life is up to you. If you want to eat the American-standard 220 pounds of meat a year and only two to three servings of fruits and vegetables a day, go for it. But this type of diet carries a high price–substantial risk of osteoporosis and other top causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Low-acid eating is the key to healthier bones and decreasing your risk of osteoporosis. It’s a safe, effective, low-cost prescription for health, vitality, and longevity.

Michael Castleman is a San Francisco�based health writer and coauthor with Amy Lanou, PhD, of Building Bone Vitality (McGraw-Hill, 2009).

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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.


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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) has a free video on health


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


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:

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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