Did you know that most calcium supplements on the market today are basically limestone? Yes, that’s chalk. Conceal it within a capsule, a slickly glazed tablet, or in the form of a silky smooth liquid, and it is magically transformed into a “calcium supplement”: easy to swallow, “good for the bones” and a very profitable commodity for both the dietary supplement and mining industries. After all, a sizable portion of the Earth’s crust is composed of the stuff.
Calcium carbonate comes very cheap. But does it work? A review published in Osteoporosis International Aug. 2008 concluded that calcium monotherapy (without vitamin d) actually increases the rate of fracture in women. If we believe the results of this study, it would appear that calcium alone may do nothing to prevent bone fracture or the loss of bone quality. Were this the end of the story, we might write off the $100 or more we spend on calcium supplements every year as a loss, and start drinking more milk. Not so quick!
In the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, a review tracking 78,000 nurses for 12 years found that the more cow’s milk they consumed, the higher rate of bone fracture they experienced; in the study, the relative risk of hip fracture was 45% higher in those women who drank two or more glasses of milk per day versus those who drank one glass or less.
In fact, in countries where both dairy consumption and overall calcium levels in the diet are the lowest, bone fracture rates are also the lowest; conversely, in cultures like the United States where calcium consumption is among the highest in the world, so too are the fracture rates among the highest (see: The China Study).
Osteoporosis, after all, is a complex disease process, involving lack of strenuous exercise, chronic inflammation, multiple mineral and vitamin deficiencies, inadequate production of steroid hormones, dietary incompatibilites and many other known and unknown factors, the least of which is in any probability related to a lack of elemental calcium in the diet. Also, osteoporosis, as defined by X-ray analysis, e.g. Dual-emission X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, can only directly measure bone mineral density and not structural integrity/strength, which is the real-world indicator of whether your bone will resist breaking when under the trauma, say, of a serious fall.
If we rule out drug (e.g. steroids, synthroid, acid-blockers) and hyperparathyroidism-induced osteoporosis, arguably the two main contributing factors associated with lower-than-normal bone mineral density are:
1) Dietary Acidosis: caused by the excessive consumption of acid forming foods like starchy grains, dairy (excluding goat’s milk) and meat, all of which result in the leaching of the alkaline mineral stores in our bones. (Additionally, the consumption of highly acidic substances like coffee, alcohol, sugar, over the counter and prescribed drugs, and even the metabolic byproducts of chronic stress can all put the acid/alkaline balance beyond the tipping point). The flip-side is the under-consumption of alkalinizing fruits and vegetables, which disburden the mineral stores within the skeletal system of their sacrificial, acid-neutralizing role.
2) Malabsorption Syndrome: caused in large part by the excessive consumption of wheat, cow’s milk products, soy (non-fermented) and corn.* All four of these foods, in fact, can be used to produce industrial adhesives, e.g .wheat = book binding glue, cow’s milk protein (casein) = Elmer’s glue, soy = plywood glue, corn = cardboard glue, and while not a problem for everyone, for many, their ingestion leads to a disruption of the absorptive capacity of the villi in the intestines by producing a “gluey coating,” contributing to inflammation and atrophy of the villi. Other causes include dysbiosis, an overgrowth of unfriendly and undergrowth of friendly bacteria in the alimentary canal, as well as acute and/or chronic stress which depletes the glutamine without which the intestinal villi die (villi cell turnover occurs within 2 days, indicating even acute bouts of stress of short duration can cause profound damage). You don’t see a lack of calcium or Boniva in this picture, do you?
Fortunately these two factors are completely preventable and treatable through dietary and lifestyle changes. It is increasingly clear that osteoporosis is not caused by a lack of calcium; to the contrary, it appears that excessive calcium intake may actually cause greater bone fracture rates, especially later in life! After all, the traditional Chinese peasant diet, based as it is on eating a calcium-poor, plant-based diet, included approximately 250 mg of food calcium a day – not the 1200 mg (or more!) a day the National Osteoporosis Foundation claims is necessary for women and men over 40 to maintain strong bones.
To read more click here: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-too-much-calcium-can-break-your-bones
3 thoughts on “How Too Much Calcium Can Break Your Bones”
Thanks for this post. It’s so hard to know what’s right, and wrong anymore. There are so many doctors that promote, vitamins, calcium pills and so forth. And then there are doctors who tell you the complete opposite-to stay away from such things. I guess we need to do what you do, our own extensive research on products to find out what the food and drug administration don’t want us to know.
I know it’s frustrating because we all want to trust our doctors. They are the ones we rely on to help keep our bodies on the right path of optimal health. It’s very sickening though to read about doctors writing prescriptions for compensation vacation packages from pharmaceutical companies. Many articles are published daily about foods, products we use, and supplements we take. However, the public isn’t aware of them. It’s important to advocate for your health and that sometimes entails doing your own research. Thank you for your thoughts.