Monday, May 14, 2007

Milk, calcium and osteoporosis

I saw an article on MSN by A. J, Cleary on her claims of milk being a good source of calcium. There was a question on milk not being a good source of calcium as the protein can leach calcium out from our body. She replied that increasing protein does leach calcium out, but this loss is offset by increased calcium absorption, so there's no net disadvantage of the extra protein. It sounds logical, but it really depends on how good our absorption of calcium is and how much calcium protein help to leach. If the net balance is positive (more calcium absorped), then it's good news. If the net balance is zero or negative, then drinking milk is just a redundant step.

Anyway, I thought why go for foods that help get rid of your calcium and give you calcium at the same time. Cleary also mentioned that you need to eat an immense amount of veggies such as broccoli to get the same calcium from milk. But then again veggies don't have that much protein as milk so do we need that much calcium? I don't know how the RDA is derived, but it is for the population in general. Will it suit vegetarians and vegans whose dietary patterns are different from omnivores?

Besides milk, other components in our diet also play a part. Meat, for example. Meat, one of the things prized for its protein content, was once the food of the wealthy. Nowadays they have been made cheap and we are eating a lot of meat than we used to do in the past, and that means we are eating more protein as well. This extra protein can cause calcium leach as well.

The diet issue aside, another important thing is to get adequate exercise. Astronauts in space don't require their bones to give them support since they float around, so they have to exercise to keep their bone density. To keep our bone density, we have to get enough exercise.

I won't start drinking milk after seeing that article, there has been some controversy in the research of milk and osteoporosis. And besides, factory farmed milk isn't healthy. My take on this issue would still be... eat a wide variety of natural foods and get enough exercise - I guess it's the only sensible thing to do when no conclusions can be reached.

Calcium Conundrum, Health centers: Menopause, MSN
Why astronauts suffer bone loss, Medical news today
Interests and values in the RDA and nutritional guidelines for Americans


zlyrica said...

Hi, this website might help to convince more...

dreamy said...

Hi Zlyrica,
milk and osteoporosis has been quite a debate, some people say milk causes it, and others remain firm in their stand that milk is good for your bones. It's hard to tell nowadays who's right who's wrong, because their initial stand/hypothesis about milk and osteoporosis may lead to bias results. And also scientists can be bought over by major players of industries to produce results which help boost the companies profits, and we won't know who's telling the truth. whooo... the world is really dark... :S

Thanks for that interesting site, I have to agree on the animal and environment reasons for going vegan, if it continues like that, we probably die of Earth destruction than milk/non-milk related illness - and considering there are a lot of alternatives to nutrients found in milk, i think helping the environment and animals are already strong reasons why we shld quit milk :)

zlyrica said...

True, it is debatable, just like some say milk causes cancer, some disagree.

Yes, for the animals and environment. These animals have no choice but WE DO, and the environment depends on our choice.

Choose compassion.
Choose with compassion.
Choose out of compassion. :)

Jari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jari said...

Well, many have researched the connection of milk and osteoporosis but I haven't heard of anyone finding milk really preventing that, despite all the advertisements from the dairy industry. Osteoporosis comes mainly from the lack of exercise, not enough vitamin D, smoking, too much alcohol, and so on... it's to do with the lifestyle, not the calcium. (1,2)

As for the recommendations, they're for omnivores. The RDA's also vary a lot around the world, and they're considerably more than the average need. Then there's also to consider how well the calcium is absorbed from various sources, e.g. from milk 32% is absorbed while from broccoli it's 61%. (3) Good vegan sources for calcium are tofu, beans, green leafy vegetables, tahini, seeds, nuts, cabbages, dried fruits, and of course the enriched things. Spinach isn't good for that though, it has oxalic acid that prevents the absorption.

Besides, I agree whole-heartedly with Dreamy and Zlyrica that the environment and compassion should be reason enough to quit milk anyway. :-)

1. Hegsted DM. Fractures, calcium, and the modern diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001;74:571-3.
2. Rajaham S, Wien M. Vegetarian diets in the prevention of osteoporosis, diabetes, and neurological disorders. In the book Sabate J: Vegetarian Nutrition, CRC Press 2001.
3. Weaver CM ea. Choices for achieving adequate dietary calcium with a vegetarian diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999;70(suppl):543-8.

dreamy said...

I must agree with the exercise part! We are moving much less than what our ancestors used to in the past.

"from milk 32% is absorbed while from broccoli it's 61%" -- I didn't knew this, thanks!

Lisa said...

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Sofia said...

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liked your site and i am interested in building a

relationship with your site. We want to spread public

awareness. I hope you can help me out. Your site is a

very useful resource.

Please email me back with your URl in subject line to

take a step ahead and also to avoid spam.

Thank you,
Sofia Vergez

cathy said...

Thanks for your honest tone and saying clearly that this is what you think. There is so much poorly referenced/sourced vegan propaganda! and this post was really refreshing. (and same about the comment, Jari!)

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