If you think calcium pills & vitamin D are all you need to protect yourself from bone loss, think again!
"Diets high in protein (especially animal protein) and cereal grains produce an excess of acid in the body which may increase calcium excretion and weaken bones, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM)"
I Thought Protein (especially Dairy Products & Poultry/Fish/Beef) Was Necessary for Building Bone. How Could It Cause Bone Loss?
- Dr. T. Colin Campbell explains this counter-intuitive situation best. An animal protein diet creates an acidosis state in the body that diminishes vitamin D, which is needed to build strong bones. In addition, when acidosis exists, the body pulls out calcium from the bones in an attempt to neutralize the acid state.
- Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, the lead author in the JCEM study, explains that when older adults eat diets high in protein & grain, acid is produced, and as we age our bodies are less able to excrete this acid.
So What Can I Do to Avoid the Calcium From Leaching Out Of My Bones?
- The Dawson-Hughes research team found that:
- Dr. Joel Fuhrman weighed in on the study with these specific recommendations:
1. Limit animal protein consumption to 15 ounces per week or less 2. Keep salt consumption under 1200 mg per day 3. Eliminate caffeine, refined sweets & vitamin A supplements.
- Fuhrman wholeheartedly agrees with the Tufts researchers. Osteoporosis is "also due to factors that accelerate the loss of calcium in the urine. Controlling the factors that work together to leach calcium from the bones and increase calcium in the urine (by reducing and eliminating them) is much more important than taking extra calcium.
- For those of us less inclined to make the dietary changes--there is good news. The Tufts study also found that you can get your "Alkali Fix" in pill form as well:
How Was This Study Set Up?
- 171 men & women over the age of 50 participated in a double-blind, controlled trial. The groups received one of the following: a placebo,or 67.5 mmol/d of potassium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or potassium chloride for 3 months. All the groups were given 600 mg of calcium & 525 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
- The urinary excretion of calcium was measured when they started & after 3 months.
- It turned out that the Bicarbonate (the alkali compound) was key to reducing calcium excretion. The potassium had no effect upon the results.
- Take home message: A diet high in fruits & vegetables would have the same calcium-sparing effect as the bicarbonate pill, with the additional benefits of vitamins, minerals & anti-oxidants. To stop bone loss, it's all about increasing the alkali content of the diet!
Article cited: Lisa Ceglia, Susan S. Harris, Steven A. Abrams, Helen M. Rasmussen, Gerard E. Dallal, and Bess Dawson-Hughes. "Potassium bicarbonate attenuates the urinary nitrogen excretion that accompanies an increase in dietary protein and may promote calcium absorption." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. published online December 2, 2008.
Author affiliation: The Jean Mayer United States Deartment of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA.
Supported by the Agricultural Research Service, the HNRCA is the largest research institution in the world devoted to investigating the relationship between nutrition and aging.