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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 03, 2006

Ladies: We Can Stop With the Calcium Chews, Already

By Sara
14 Comments

Sara here. Osteoporosis has been in the news again, and I want to share some important missing information with you. (If you want the nitty-gritty osseous-related research, please shoot me a line on the Forum.) In brief, though, here’s what every woman, and especially all the moms out there, must know:

Osteoporosis is not going to be prevented, treated or cured with three glasses of milk a day or yogurt every morning. Never was, never will be.

A few things the dairy people don’t want you to think about:

1) Dairy is not a common food in much of the world,

2) Osteoporosis is not a common disease – often, it’s not even heard of – in much of the world. However, osteoporosis is most common in Europe and in the United States, where dairy intake is exceptionally high. Strange? Sure, because there are other factors you need to know about. Osteoporosis is not simply a matter of calcium depletion.

Osteoporosis is caused by many factors, but here are the four key ones:

1) Vitamin and mineral deficiency. Although the western world has incredible abundance and access, centralized mass production of food leaves a lot to be desired in the nutritional department. And our calcium emphasis is skewed. Though calcium is important, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, vitamin D, and countless other vitamins and minerals are crucial to bone health. In fact, recent studies show that magnesium may actually be more important to bone health than calcium is. Not saying calcium isn’t important. It is. It’s vital. It’s just not the only thing you need. I hate to beat a dead llama, but take a multi-vitamin, ladies!

2) Soda consumption. (Even diet soda.) The worst, and I mean worst thing you can do to your bones is to drink death-by-can. There are lots of studies that prove this, but a recent long-term study published in the much-respected American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consume just one soda daily have 5 to 7 percent less bone material than women who limit fizzy stuff to just once a month.

3) Lack of fruits and vegetables. Most Americans eat only 1-3 servings of produce daily. Blech! No wonder we’re all so chunkity chunk. A recent study from the British Journal of Nutrition found that postmenopausal women who ate adequate vegetable matter (at least 5 servings) in their daily diets were between 200 and 400% better in terms of bone mineral density loss. (Now, here’s a handy time to talk about studies and statistics. This doesn’t mean that these bone-hardy women have bones that weigh 2 to 4 times as much as other women. What it means is relative loss compared to veggie-avoiding women. So, that might mean a few ounces on up to a few pounds – scientists generally break things up into quartiles so they can examine a range of factors. Fascinating, I know!)

In other words, vegetables will not make you gain 300 pounds, and they will also not give you the bones of Hercules. But they’re still good for your bones.

Here was Mark’s take: the study was cross-sectional (good), population-based (fine in this case), long-term (good), used statistical regression analysis (sounds fancy but just standard) and was questionnaire-based (a little annoying, but still useful).

4) Lastly, but definitely not least, osteoporosis is caused by a lack of weight-bearing activity. This means resistance. This means weights. And there is no need to worry – weight-bearing activity will not make you look like a protein-shake spokeswoman. A lot of women are surprised to learn that “weight-bearing” activity can be going for a walk – ‘cuz you are bearing your own weight! Using ankle weights is great, as well. Purchase some dumbbells in the 2-10 pound range (depending on your fitness level) and learn to do 4 or 5 difference moves, 3 sets each, 8-10 repetitions per set. 2 or 3 times a week is plenty to keep your bones strong. Ask me for some moves. I’m happy to help out.

You don't need 'em!

[tags] Sara Ost, osteoporosis, osseous, women’s health, deficiency, vitamins, minerals, calcium, weight training, Viactiv, calcium supplement, British Journal of Nutrition, bone density, dairy, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [/tags]

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14 Comments on "Ladies: We Can Stop With the Calcium Chews, Already"

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[…] Daily Apple gives us some insight on building strong bones without taking in all the dairy.  Read here to learn what to add and what to eliminate when trying to maintain calcium levels.  Food, […]

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[…] are other factors you need to know about. Osteoporosis is not simply a matter of calcium depletion.Read moreTags: calcium depletion, common disease, osteoporosis Posted in Articles | Leave a commentLeave a […]

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5 years 6 months ago

[…] and the sum of the actual evidence points to protein as being protective against heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease, and liver problems – all things protein is supposed to initiate or […]

WildGrok
WildGrok
5 years 5 months ago

Hi Sara
Thanks for this article, this is what I was looking for to show to my sedentary wife

Primal Toad
Primal Toad
5 years 2 months ago

Excellent article. It’s amazing how hard the government tries to get us to consume an absurd amount of pasteurized milk. Thankfully it’s now becoming more well known that other minerals also play a vital role including magnesium and the sunshine vitamin! Get your daily sun!

Concerned Daughter
Concerned Daughter
4 years 11 months ago

Hi! What great information! What are some exercises my 62 year old mother could do with some dumbbells that would help her strengthen her bones?

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[…] and the sum of the actual evidence points to protein as being protective against heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease, and liver problems – all things protein is supposed to initiate or […]

Amy
Amy
4 years 10 months ago
Excellent article. I appreciate this because it gives me a reference to use because I’ve suspected for a while that the calcium/dairy link was bunk. The older women (50+) I have know who carefully follow the consume 3 portions of dairy and a lowfat diet in general rarely appear in robust health. They *look* frail, even if overweight, and I’m not surprised it would apply to their bones as well. Yes, that’s not scientific but I figure genetically speaking, we’re all programmed to look for signs of health in each other. We mostly know what health looks like because we’re… Read more »
Julie
Julie
4 years 10 months ago

I have been reading up on the Primal Blueprint and am excited about what I am reading. I would like to implement this lifestyle into my home but I am concerned about the amount of calcium my two active girls(ages 9 &12) may not be getting. This is a critical time for calcium intake. I would love to get some advice on calcium rich foods they may love

janet
janet
4 years 7 months ago

Any idea on what kind of dosage on magnesium if I take a supplement. 63 yr old diagnosed with osteopenia and taking Evista. My doc is in the bag for drugs. I have been taking over 2000 mg of calcium carbonate per day with lots of D too. I have a feeling im taking too much of both. Not bad eater before i went paleo in december and exercise-nordic walk and curves. Not sure how to proceed on the osteoporosis issue as paleo beginner. Thanks Mark. I await every post and the great comments each day.

Bluto
Bluto
4 years 5 months ago

Mark. Thanks sir! Excellent article! I would like to see a link or two to the actual studies that you’re referencing. I know you’ve linked to the organizations that conducted these studies but it would make me feel a whole lot better to see the studies themselves. Thanks!

Susan
Susan
4 years 3 months ago

Question…Does soda include club soda? I have read that the soda problem is with colas, and not fizzy stuff in general, as was previously thought.

Also, I have pretty low bone density at a relatively young age and would love to hear if it is possible to restore the density. I have heard a few anecdotes, but not much substance.

Martha Real
Martha Real
3 years 4 months ago

Great article and I love your personal style; I was laughing at your post-fact comments, love them, keep them coming. I am now a fan of yours. Thanks!
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David Brown
1 year 9 months ago

I really like your way of expressing the opinion and sharing the information.

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