The Truth about Calcium, Dairy Foods and Strong Bones

Calcium is a vital mineral needed for many purposes in the body. Without adequate calcium, our bones, nervous system, muscles and blood suffer.

The best place to derive our calcium is from plants, especially greens. Dairy foods provide calcium but also many unfavourable compounds, including IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor 1. This is a growth hormone which accelerates cellular growth. It is the most powerful growth hormone in the human body. All animals have it.

However, there are two animals on earth, and only two, which have identical IGF-1: humans and cows. Both have IGF-1 with 70 amino acids in exactly the same sequence. The odds of this are astronomical.

When we drink milk or eat cheese we get an extra dose of bovine (cow) growth factor, over and above our own. This is NOT a good idea, as many research scientists have implicated the consumption of dairy foods (see attached) with the increase in cancer, particularly breast and prostate.

Professor Jane Plant’s book ‘Your Health in Your Hands’, and her other books ‘Osteoporosis’ and ‘Prostate Cancer’ received the following review:

Professor Plant, who was appointed CBE for her work in geochemistry, has been anti-dairy for ten years. Having endured five bouts of breast cancer between 1987 and 1993, and having researched why it is that, in China, where the diet contains almost no dairy produce, the incidence of breast cancer is one in 10,000, she devised a dairy-free diet-and-lifestyle programme that she believes saved her life and could help to save others. Her theory is that milk is a cocktail of growth factors – hormones that control cell division and can influence cancer growth. High levels of one type of growth factor, IGF-1, are thought to be a risk factor for breast and prostate cancer. The Dairy Council disputes this, pointing out that milk contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has been shown to block the growth and spread of breast cancer cells, and to a survey in Norway in which women who drank milk were shown to be less at risk of breast cancer than those who did not. But Professor Plant is standing her ground. In the three years since her book, Your Life in Your Hands, was published, she has reviewed many other studies that have come to the almost identical conclusion – that growth factors in the diet are the problem with many types of cancers.

The Times

There are many other reasons to avoid or greatly restrict your intake of dairy foods, such as cholesterol, saturated fat, excess protein from the casein, lactose sensitivity, government-allowable levels of pus cells in the milk from infected udders, lack of fibre etc.

It is important to remember that calcium in your diet does NOT necessarily equate to calcium in your body or bones. This is because certain dietary and lifestyle habits LEACH calcium from our bodies into our urine, causing hypercalcuria. These include alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, high animal protein intake (including dairy), sugar, salt, many prescribed drugs, carbonated soft drinks and prolonged stress.

Many people today have a high intake of calcium, mainly from dairy and supplements, BUT, because they have these other calcium-leaching habits, have poor bone density and poor bone strength, leading to fractures and osteoporosis.

In addition, low vitamin D impedes the absorption of calcium in the intestines. We need to get regular adequate exposure to the beneficial rays of the sun. Blood tests show vitamin D status (25 Hydroxy-Vitamin D) and in some cases vitamin D3 supplementation may be appropriate. I sometimes recommend a short course of D3 (cholecalciferol) at an appropriate dose for a short time, while other nutritional and lifestyle factors are simultaneously addressed.

Keep in mind that vitamin D is fat soluble, and, unlike water- soluble vitamins like Vitamin C, is stored in the body, so can be a problem if taken in excess.

It is also important to remember that eating ANY calcium-rich foods from ANY source (plants or dairy) does NOT make strong bones. This idea that the dairy industry and dieticians push to eat dairy and drink milk for strong bones is a complete fallacy. It shows a complete lack of understanding of basic physiology.

Certainly, the intake of calcium (and all the other nutritional factors) allows the body the needed materials to build bones and teeth, that is true.

But to build strong bones (and indeed strong teeth through chewing) requires exercise. When we exercise our muscles, we also exercise our bones.

Muscles and bones get strong together, and they get weak together!

Sarcopenia means thinning muscles and osteopenia means thinning bones. They are reversible, provided proper advice is put into practice. These are NOT diseases needing drugs, they are states of declining health caused by factors needing to be addressed.

The way to reverse this is NOT to take drugs like Fosomax but to eat more plant-based foods, adopt less calcium-draining nutritional and lifestyle habits AND to exercise.

Avoid Calcium Supplements

There have been many scientific studies over the past three years implicating calcium supplements with a number of health issues. These include calcification of organs and other soft tissues like arteries, particularly the coronary arteries, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Get your calcium from the plants, eliminate or drastically reduce the social poisons which leach calcium, get plenty of appropriate exercise and get some sun.

The human body has the remarkable capacity to self-heal. We cut ourselves, we heal. We get colds and flu, we recover. We break a bone, it knits back together. How good is that?