Osteoporosis has become a tragic health concern.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 30% of post-menopausal American women (and quite a few men, too) have osteoporosis, and many of them will experience a bone fracture in their future.
This is serious. Our bones are literally crumbling inside us. Is it inevitable? Or can something be done about it?
Paradoxically, though more people than ever are experiencing significant bone loss, more people than ever are also taking calcium supplements. What’s wrong with this picture? Are calcium supplements the key to maintaining bone health? Or are there other important factors in play?
I’m not the only one asking these questions.
I encountered a terrific blog that focuses on menopause – menopausetheblog.com. It’s written by Wendy Hoffman, and she’s graciously allowed me to republish one of her articles on calcium supplements and bone health.
Check it out:
Does Calcium Really Build Strong Bones?
January 18, 2010
If you’re concerned about losing bone strength during the menopause transition, you’ve probably been advised by your physician to increase your intake of dairy foods and/or take a daily calcium supplement of at least 1000 mg every day to help prevent bone loss. But you’ll be surprised to learn that Calcium may not be the answer at all.
In their book, Building Bone Vitality: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis–Without Dairy Foods, Calcium, Estrogen, or Drugs, authors Michael Castleman, and Amy Lanou, Ph.D., a senior nutrition scientist for the Physician’s Committee on Responsible Medicine, argue that the highest incidence of hip fractures have actually occurred in countries where dairy consumption was the highest. Moreover, the science doesn’t support dairy’s usefulness in reducing the risk of fractures. They point out that of the 86 studies that have examined the connection between calcium supplementation and bone health, two-thirds showed no impact on bone health above 500 mg. So if fortifying our bodies with added Calcium is old, conventional thinking, what is the new answer when it comes to preserving bone vitality as we age?
In Dr. Lanou’s view, it’s not the intake of calcium we should focus on, but rather a dietary pattern that keeps calcium in the bone and helps us hang on to the bone strength that we already have. She believes the optimum diet is one that reduces acidity in the blood, or put another way, that helps make the blood more alkaline to promote the growth of new bone cells. This type of diet is high in fruits and vegetables (she recommends 6-9 servings daily) and low in acid-producing foods such as meat, dairy products (eggs, cheese), sugar and processed foods. She also recommends walking (or equivalent exercise) at least 30 minutes every day.
The book lists more than 100 common foods and rates how acid-forming or alkaline they are. What are some of the good, alkaline-forming foods that she recommends?
- Dried fruit
- Sweet Potatoes
- Wild Greens
If you’re interested in hearing Dr. Lanou talk about her research on the connection between nutrition and bone health, you can listen to this 28-minute interview that she conducted on Healthwatch, on KBOO-FM. A more brief interview with her also can be viewed on this San Francisco TV station’s website.