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Calcium for Bone Health–Not What You Thought April 19, 2011

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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Keep drinking your milk, but don’t expect it to prevent bone loss. Calcium is an essential nutrient required for bone function, but it will not stave off osteoporosis (a decrease in bone density), or make weak bones strong. Michael Castleman, medical journalist, has compiled some surprising statistics relating calcium intake to bone fractures:

  • 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 [reduced] hip fracture risk.”
  • The people of Asia and Africa consume little to no milk after weaning, and their fracture rates are 70% less than those in the U.S.

The calcium our bodies require for strong bones does not come from dairy products or other animal proteins. In fact, it is these dietary items that cause many life-threatening diseases commonly plaguing Americans: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, strokes. The proper form of calcium and other nutrients to support bone health come from fruits and vegetables which have low acid content. High protein diets, including all dairy products and meat, increase acid in the blood which draws nutrients and calcium from bones in order to make it more alkaline. This, of course, weakens bones resulting in osteoporosis and bone fracture.

This is an important issue, as half of all U.S. women over the age of 50 will suffer some type of bone fracture, most likely in the hip.

Dietary Tips

Imagine your plate divided into fourths. One fourth may have one serving of protein (the size of your palm or a deck of cards). One fourth may have one serving of carbohydrates, and the other half should be loaded with a variety of fruits and vegetables. The protein or carb portion of your plate may frequently be replaced with additional greens.

For an herbal bone strengthener, try horsetail. It is rich in silicone which promotes growth and stability of the skeletal structure. This is also helpful for healing bone fractures and not only preventing osteoporosis, but reversing it.

Also important for strong bones – Vitamins C, D, K and potassium.

Read about a non-protein, good source of calcium in Blackstrap: The Healthy Molasses.


Castleman, Michael, Building Bone Vitality, McGraw Hill, 2009.

Heinerman, John, Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs, Prentice-Hall, 1988.


1. toasty redhead - May 14, 2011

Good points

2. Blackstrap: The Healthy Molasses « Amy Croan MPH - May 24, 2011

[…] Unlike sugar, it contains significant amounts of minerals, most notably manganese, copper, iron and calcium, but also potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and […]

3. Alice Williams - September 10, 2011

Amy I found your article most interesting and helpful. It shot down many of my pre-conceived beliefs about calcium. I have felt guilty for years about my poor milk consumption. Maybe I have been on an needless guilt trip? Thanks for sharing your blog link. Just taking a quick look around your blog I am intrigued and will read more of your past posts as I have time.
Alice Williams

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[…] Calcium For Bone Health: Not What You Thought […]

6. Is The Food Pyramid Killing Us? « Amy Croan MPH - May 21, 2012

[…] have included meat and dairy as the primary sources of protein and calcium. A previous post, Calcium for Bone Health-Not What You Thought, details a direct correlation between animal-based calcium consumption and increased rates of […]

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