Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Calcium Element

Everyone knows the benefits of Calcium. If you want strong bones, if you want to prevent bone breakage/ fractures and osteoporosis-which is the thinning of the bones, then you're going to want to get calcium in your diet.
And surely, the American diet gets plenty of calcium through diary products ie. milk, cheese, etc. Yes, the diary companies make sure that we understand fully the importance of calcium. Look at the countless of "Got Milk" ads with numerous celebrities. You know lots of bucks goes into these advertisements.

It's so nice that these big dairy companies are so interested in my health....

I wonder why they don't inform people that osteoporosis is actually higher in countries that drink milk?
In Dr. Northrup's book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, she explains how in China where less calcium is consumed, and among the African Bantu women, the incidences of osteoporosis are much less than in Western countries.
In fact, there was a study done with 7800 nurses that spanned over 12 years investigating the effects of milk. This study was published in June 1997 in the American Journal of Public Health.
The study revealed that the women who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were more likely to fracture a hip or forearm than those who drank less.

Well, that doesn't make sense!
Let's zip into the world of bones and understand what's going on...
First off bones are made of two primary components: a latticed protein which allows flexibity and calcium phosphate, a mineral salt that gives the bone strength.

In order for the bone to avoid breakage, it needs both to be flexible and strong. Calcium alone is not enough.

Ok, so milk is perfect! It's got the calcium and it's protein!
Another important fact: The body breaks down the milk protein (casein) in the body by pulling calcium out from the bones. Check out Food and Our Bones by Annmarie Colbin. So drinking more milk can actually be detrimental to bone health!

Fact is that we need more than just calcium to have good bone health. We need vitamin D, MAGNESIUM, protein sources other than milk, exercise, and other nutrients (like vitamin K, zinc). I bold magnesisum b/c it controls how much calcium goes into a cell. And too much calcium blocks the body from using magnesium-which is bad news.

Ok, so am I going to tell you to stop drinking milk?
One cup of skim milk has 300 mg of Ca. A cup of low fat cottage cheese has 150 mg.
Pretty impressive.
But did you know that one cup of collard greens have 300 mg? So does a can of sardines. A cup of cooked black beans has got 135 mg. And for those who are into sea vegetables, 1 cup wakame has a whopping 520. The list goes on.

The cool part is that these are awesome, natural sources of other vitamins, minerals, and proteins. And there's no pulling calcium out of your bones.

G-d is good.

Big companies are interested in their own survival. They could care less about me. We have to be aware of what's not being told to us, so we can make smart choices.

In the defense of milk, I have heard good stuff about fermented/ raw goat's milk which I hope to share w/ you in the future. I haven't tried it yet. Presently, I'm focusing on non-dairy sources of calcium.

G-d bless!


The First Domino said...

Good information. You presented some surprises, and added to my storehouse of knowledge.

Who would have thought that a cup of "collard greens," a soul-food eaters delight, would have 300 mg of Ca?

Yeah you guessed it: I'll be eating more of them in the new year!


Chaya said...

Thanks, "First Domino." Bon appetite and have a blessed new year!