From: Bryanna (NewVeggies.vegsource.com)
Subject: Re: Yes.
Date: September 9, 2004 at 7:52 am PST
In Reply to: Yes. posted by Shona on September 9, 2004 at 4:40 am:
Excerpts from the manuscript of "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause” by Bryanna Clark Grogan -- may be slightly different wording in the book itself due to editing.)
Scientists can't agree on whether this degenerative condition is a deficiency disease or a disease of excess. They can't agree on how much calcium we need or where we should be getting it. The only thing they DO agree on is that this disease is of epidemic proportions, many experts figuring that 1 in 3 North American women will develop it.
This disease is more than cosmetic (the unsightly "dowager's hump"). Osteoporosis can cause suffering and death, and the statistics are frightening. The average North American woman will have lost over one third (35%) of her skeletal structure by age 65! In severe cases of osteoporosis, bones can fracture spontaneously because they can't support the body's weight. Or, the impact of a sneeze can splinter small bones.
(While 80% of sufferers are women, men are not immune. More men will get osteoporosis than prostate cancer. But, besides the fact that men have a larger bone mass to start with, giving them an advantage, men do not experience the accelerated bone loss of 3 or more percent during the first seven to ten years after menopause that women do. This is how that average 35% bone loss figure comes about-- figure 1/2% a year from ages 35 to 50, which makes 7.5%, and add on another 30% for 10 years of 3% loss. This could mean a 37 and 1/2% loss by age 60! Men have an average yearly bone loss of 1% a year after 50, and women generally return to that rate after the years of rapid loss, but it's still a loss, even if at a slower rate. Can you prevent this? Read on!)
Hip fractures are the number one reason for winding up in a nursing home these days-- half of these hip fracture patients will be temporarily or permanently disabled and 20% will die within one year. And things are getting worse every year.
How can this be in North America, where people drink milk into adulthood, yogurt is popular snack and breakfast food, and cheese consumption has been increasing? Everybody knows that if you get enough calcium you will prevent osteoporosis, and aren't these dairy products chock-a-block full of calcium?
Well, it's a little more complicated than we've been led to believe. Consider this statement from an article called "Count on Calcium" by Denise Beatty in Canadian Living magazine, January 1996: "Canadian women [this statement could accurately read "North American women" BCG] need so much more calcium to maintain calcium balance and good bone health than women in developing nations. It's because nutrients needs vary according to such things as genetics, lifestyle and diet. In the case of calcium, our Western-style diet is high in protein, phosphorous and sodium and causes calcium loss through urine that must be compensated for by higher consumption of the mineral." The 1000 mg minimum calcium requirement that North American women are constantly bombarded with PRESUMES that you'll be eating 4 oz. of animal protein a day, and, for every ounce of animal protein over that, you need an extra 100 mg of calcium. (Unfortunately, as you will see if you read on, ingesting higher levels of calcium does not necessarily compensate for this loss.)
In fact, the World Health Organization recommends that adults in developing countries consume between 400 and 500 mg of calcium per day. In Japan, which has less incidence of osteoporosis than in North America despite the fact that Asians have less dense bones than Caucasians, the recommended daily dose of calcium is 600 mg, but the actual intakes are probably half that.
In North America, adult women are advised to take between 800 and 1500 mg a day. However, if osteoporosis were merely a deficiency disease, then we should be seeing rates of osteoporosis in North America and other milk-consuming, calcium-supplement-popping areas of the world go down-- but they are going up! In fact, in countries with the lowest rates of calcium intake the hip-fracture rates are lowest, and the hip-fracture rates go up with the amount of calcium ingested (see chart below). (Because it is a common result of osteoporosis, hip-fracture rates are used as a measure of the disease.)
According to Virginia Messina (a registered dietician with a master's degree in public health) and Mark Messina (doctorate in nutrition and formerly with the Diet and Cancer Branch of the National Cancer Institute in the U.S.), in their book The Vegetarian Way (Crown Trade Paperbacks, NY,1996): "Osteoporosis, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, appears to a be a disease of affluence and excess, rather than one of deficiency. The more scientists learn about osteoporosis, the more they realize that it is an extremely complex disease related to overall lifestyle, a big part of which includes diet. The idea that dosing yourself with calcium will automatically keep your bones in good shape is just plain wrong."
They go on to say further "that the belief that milk is essential in the diet is clearly incorrect", in light of the fact that about two thirds of the world's population has trouble digesting milk. Anthropologists tell us that apparently northern Europeans developed a genetic mutation which allows them to digest milk sugar into adulthood-- the rest of the world, including Asians, Native Americans, Africans, and Mediterranean peoples, lose this ability as they mature. It is obvious that drinking milk is not taking "calcium the way nature intended it".
Now, consider this statement from the newly-revised "Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets-- technical support paper": "Calcium absorption appears to be inhibited by such plant constituents as phytic acid, oxalic acid, and fiber, but this effect may not be significant. Calcium deficiency in vegetarians is rare, and there is little evidence to show that low intakes of calcium give rise to major health problems among the vegetarian population. One recent study has shown that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than do non-vegetarians. Other studies cite lower rates of osteoporosis in vegetarians than in non-vegetarians."
The operative words here appear to be "absorb" and "retain". It seems to be of little use to ingest huge quantities of calcium if they are not absorbed and retained by the body. Scientists are discovering that many factors are at work in the way the body absorbs calcium, and that the calcium in foods is not all equally well-absorbed. One of the problems in our North American diet appears to be an excess of animal protein.
The Protein Connection
As long ago as the 1930's, researchers noted that a meat-based diet caused large increases in the amount of calcium EXCRETED in the urine. More current studies showed that, at each level of calcium intake, the more protein consumed, the more calcium is lost from the body. Increasing protein from 48 g a day (just a bit below our RDA) to 95 g a day (the average North American consumes this amount or more) caused 50% more calcium to be excreted.
When protein was very high in the diet, 142 g a day (common in North America) it was impossible to maintain calcium balance, even when ingesting 1400 mg of calcium a day.
How does this happen? To state it very simply, over-consuming protein creates an acidic condition that the body attempts to bring back into balance by leaching calcium, an alkaline mineral, from the bones. (When you are in calcium balance, you lose the same amount of calcium from your body as you consume. Other factors besides protein affect calcium balance, and I'll go into those further on.) One extreme example of this is Inuit people on a traditional meat-and-fish-based diet with few plant foods. They consume some of the highest amounts of calcium (over 2000mg a day), but also very high amounts of protein (250-400 mg a day). They unfortunately have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world.
By contrast, African Bantu women eating their traditional diet consume a low-protein, low-calcium (350 mg a day) diet, mostly of vegetables and grains. Yet even their oldest women are essentially free of osteoporosis. Genetic relatives of these women living in the U.S. and eating the standard North American diet have the same rate of osteoporosis as the average American woman.
Dr. John McDougall, a leading medical authority on diet and disease writes: " I would like to emphasize that the calcium-losing effect of protein on the human body is not an area of controversy in scientific circles. The many studies performed during the past 55 years consistently show that the most important dietary change that we can make if we want to create positive calcium balance that will keep our bones solid is to decrease the amount of proteins we eat each day. The important change is not to increase the amount of calcium we take in."
He cites five different studies by five different research teams studying the effect of low and high protein diets on calcium balance. In each study the same correspondence was found-- the more protein that is ingested, the more calcium is lost, even if the dietary calcium is as high as 1400 per day!
And, by the way, those new (or perhaps I should say "resurrected") high-protein, low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets force are dangerous for your bones. They force your body to use an inferior source of fuel-- fat metabolites called ketones, which cause your kidneys to go into overdrive because they are toxic (that's why your breath stinks when you are in a ketonic state) and the body needs to flush them out of the system. Water is drained from the tissues for this purpose, causing dehydration and strain on the kidneys. You can lose an impressive amount of weight quickly, but it's mostly water, and you lose some bone and muscle as well. (More about this in the exercise section.) You can become weak and dizzy, and your heart may race. As soon as you eat a normal diet, the water supply is restored, you feel better, your breath smells sweet again, and your weight returns.
(Many "insulin-resistant" or "carbohydrate-sensitive" people go on this type of high-protein diet, but they mistakenly believe that all carbohydrates are treated the same by the body. A high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet made up of complex carbohydrates-- whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes-- does NOT have the same effect on the body as a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet made up of fat-free convenience foods. One study showed that a low-fat convenience-food diet caused triglyceride levels to go up 30%, and a plant-food diet with the same amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, protein and sugar caused triglycerides to go down 25%! The sugar in the plant food diet was almost all from fruit and the carbohydrates contained the natural fiber and other nutrients missing from the processed convenience food. As the study's director, Christopher Gardner of Stanford University said, "You can't just talk about nutrients like fat and carbohydrates anymore. You have to talk about foods." Nutrition Action Health Letter, Centre for Science in the Public Interest, Nov. 1998, Canadian Ed., Vol. 25, #9.)
Soy to the Rescue
So where does soy come in? Isn't soy a high-protein food? Yes, it is the highest-protein vegetable food, but it is comparatively lower in protein than meat and other animal products (a 90 mg serving of firm tofu has 13 g of protein, compared to an average hamburger, a small chicken drumstick, or a 10x2x4 cm piece of cod, all of which contain about 25 g).
Furthermore, it seems that all protein is not created equal in terms of calcium balance. Dr. Neal Breslau of the University of Texas Health Science Center tested the effects of different types of protein on calcium balance in 1988. Subjects ate diets with the same amounts of protein and calcium, but the protein was in three different forms-- meat and cheese in one group; soyfoods, cheese and eggs in another group; and soyfoods only in the third group. The meat and cheese group excreted 50% more calcium from their bodies than the soyfoods only group. The soy, egg and cheese group fell somewhere in the middle.
These results echoed those of some animal experiments made the same year by Dr. Dike Kalu, who compared the effects of soy protein with those of milk protein (casein) on bone health and renal function of rats. The rats consuming soy protein had a delay in the onset of age-related increase in bone loss, and the total amount of bone loss was significantly less. This study is suggestive that consuming soyfoods from an early age may help prevent osteoporosis.
No one is certain just why soy protein seems to effect calcium balance in a different way than animal protein. It may be that soy protein is low in amino acids that contain sulfur, which then causes production of the chemical sulfate in the urine. Sulfate keeps calcium from being reabsorbed into the blood by the kidneys and, instead, filters calcium out of the body through the urine. Thus, low levels of the sulfur amino acid in soy protein help protect your bones.
Another way that soy may help bone density is the isoflavone (a phytochemical) daidzein, which is found primarly in soy products. This anticarcinogenic isoflavone may have some bone developing qualities. Another isoflavone, genistein, found only in soy, has been shown in recent studies at the University of North Carolina to prevent bone loss, even in low doses, almost as well as estrogen therapy. This may be due to genistein's weak estrogenic properties. It's possible that the plant estrogens in soy may bind to the estrogen receptors in the body, including the ones in our bone cells, which may help maintain bone tissue in much the same way as our own naturally-produced estrogen.
Since these plant estrogens are weaker, you need to eat at least 90 mg of isoflavones in soyfoods per day in order to see the effects, according to a study done at the University of Illinois. Some experts say that 3 to 8 servings a day (average 40 mg isoflavones per serving; 120 to 360 mg per day) is a "bone-protective" dose of soy foods. Three servings of soyfoods could be half a cup of tofu (in a dinner stir-fry, perhaps) and two cups of soymilk (in breakfast cereal, shake, or cocoa, plus added to tea or coffee and cooking and baking throughout the day), containing about 120 mg of isoflavones. So you see that it's not at all difficult to get the basic amount in food.
Adding little bits of soy to meals throughout the day (for instance, adding 1/4 c. of dry textured soy protein to your canned vegetarian chile for lunch; 1/4 c. of roasted soynuts for a snack; 3/4 oz. isolated soy protein powder with one of your servings of soymilk in a shake or a cup of cocoa; 1/2 c. of green soybeans in a vegetable salad; a few tablespoons of tofu sour cream on a potato, and a little soy flour in your bread will quickly increase the amount you take in to the optimum 8 servings!
Studies are being done at the time of this writing on whether or not isoflavones work when ingested alone, taken as a supplement in pill or powder form, as opposed to being ingested in the natural way along with the soy protein in food. For the time being, it seems that the safer and more reliable route (more enjoyable, and cheaper too!) is to get your isolflavones in soyfoods, not from supplements. It may be found that you can overdose on isolflavones taken this way, but it's highly unlikely that you could overdose on them through food, unless you ate nothing but soyfoods! It may also be found that there is something else in soyfoods that we don't know about yet which helps the isolflavones do their work.
Soybeans are are rich not only in protein, isoflavones and calcium, but also in magnesium, which regulates active calcium transport throughout the body, activates vitamin D, and helps the functions of bone-related hormones parathyroid and calctonin. Boron, a trace element which is necessary for our health, is also found in soybeans (meat and fish are poor sources). A study was done in 1986 of post-menopausal women between the ages of 48 and 82, led by Forrest Nielsen,Ph.D., director of the U.S, Department of Agriculture's Agricultural research Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Boron supplementation markedly reduced urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium and also raised the level of and estrogen called estradiol-17 beta. Because this type of estrogen is the most biologically active form, boron may be an important nutritional factor in preventing osteoporosis. (Boron supplementation is not recommended under ordinary circumstances-- it is easy to get enough of this trace mineral if you eat a plant-based diet with lots of soy.)
The Exercise Factor: How You Can REGAIN Lost Bone Density AND Stop MIddle-Aged Spread
Whenever osteoporosis is addressed in the mainstream press, calcium intake (or, usually, dairy intake) is front and centre, with little or no mention of the factors which interfere with its absorption or hasten its excretion from the body. The importance of Vitamin D and other nutrients may be mentioned next, along with other risk factors such as smoking and heavy drinking. For menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy is highly recommended. Exercise is usually only mentioned in passing.
However, innumerable studies show that high calcium intake does not necessarily prevent bone loss and it CANNOT build bone after the growing period-- but exercise can! I have never been an athletic person, but the new research on exercise and bone health has motivated me to keep up a daily exercise program that I will never give up. I find it so empowering that there is something we can do on our own, in our own homes, without spending lots of money, which has many other physical and psychological benefits, to heal ourselves and to prevent further degeneration!
Our bodies were made to move and to work hard. Weight-bearing exercise stimulates the bone-remodeling process and promotes maximum bone density. To quote a succinct explanation of the process from Dr. Joyce Vedral's book Definition (Warner Books, NY, 1995): "Bone is a living tissue composed of calcium phosphate and the protein collagen. There are hundreds of concentric rings inside the bone (these are called haversian canals). When significant force is exerted upon a bone to which a working muscle is attached, an increased blood flow surges through the bone with nutrients. Eventually the bone builds more cells and thickens. In addition, the stress upon the bone caused by lifting weights causes an electrical charge to shoot through the haversian canals and to further stimulate the cells of the bone. In summary, it is the combination of the increased blood flow and the stimulating electrical charge that causes the bones to thicken."
But you must exercise the whole body-- just running or walking will benefit your leg bones, but you must do upper body weight training to build up the bones in your arms and torso.
Until very recently, the conventional wisdom was that you achieved your "peak bone mass" between the ages of 25 and 35 and, after that, all you could hope for was to slow down the inevitable loss in bone density that came with age. And certainly it has been shown that, in sedentary people, bone mass and bone calcium deplete rapidly. A totally sedentary lifestyle (as in older adults sitting listlessly in front of televisions in nursing homes) will undermine calcium metabolism to the point that no amount of calcium supplementation or other nutritional therapy can help.
But many recent studies show that exercise can "turn back the clock" and that, indeed, weight-bearing exercise is the only known way to build bone density after we have stopped growing! A study at the University of Wisconsin by Dr. Everett Smith demonstrated that even 90-year-olds can regain muscle tone and increase bone density in their legs and hips by marching in place while holding onto a support. Lifting small handweights could do the same for the upper body.
Dr. William Evans at Tufts University found that men and women aged 87-96 could increase the strength in their thighs by an average of 175% in just eight weeks of strength training.
Miriam E. Nelson, PhD has been studying the health benefits of strength training at Tufts University for over 10 years. Her research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), shows that women get stronger, build bone, improve balance and flexibility, and increase their energy through a moderate program of weight training.
So, if you don't already exercise, start now! You don't have to become a jogger-- just get out and walk briskly every day, or do some energetic dancing, if that's more your style (I bellydance, as well as walking). Other aerobic activities are using a treadmill or a stairstepper, jogging or jumping rope on a mini-trampoline, step aerobics, roller-blading, and hiking.
And, just as important, start a moderate weight training program . You can join a gym and use their equipment, if you wish, or simply use hand weights in your own home, which is what I do (see bibliography for some good instructional books). (Some studies have shown that people who work out at home keep it up longer and more consistently than do people who go to gyms.) Working out on resistance machines or elastic restistance bands, such as Jump Stretch Inc. bands, is great for people who have difficulty handling weights, and rowing machines or exercise bikes ("spinning") with increased resistance on the flywheel are also good ways to strengthen bones. Just make sure to do a variety of activities which use different muscles, including stretching.
If you need to lose weight, a combination of aerobic activity and weight training will take off pounds (I lost 20 lbs and over 18 inches in less than a year, with no change in diet!). This is a much healthier way to lose weight than dieting. You actually lose muscle AND bone when you diet, even sensibly.
According to registered dietician Debra Waterhouse, author of Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell [Hyperion, NY, 1998], dieting during menopause is even more detrimental than dieting at any other time of your life, because you will lose muscle faster and your fat cells store fat more easily if you lower your calorie level. Because fat cells produce estrogen, they become larger and even more efficient at using calories as your ovaries produce less estrogen, particularly the fat cells around your middle body-- this is "middle-aged spread"! Soyfoods, which can balance your estrogenic levels, may actually help you stay slim, according to registered dietician Elizabeth Somer, author of Age-Proof Your Body (William Morrow & c0., Inc., 1998).
20-30% of the weight lost through dieting is water, bone, muscle and other lean tissue, no matter how much protein and calcium is ingested! The faster you lose, the larger the proportion of your loss is NOT fat. A 1994 study at Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham, England found that premenopausal women who dieted moderately and lost an average of 7.5 lbs. in three months lost 1% bone mass as well. Women under 50 normally lose no more than 1/2 % per year. Strength training can prevent this by replacing fat with muscle (which, by the way, takes up 5 to 7 times less space than the same weight in fat, so you will look slimmer even if you stay the sme weight!).
Many nutritionists also believe that with even moderate dieting (about 1200 calories a day), women cannot ingest enough food to give them really adequate nutrition and that, in order to consume enough essential nutrients, women need at least 1800 calories per day of a balanced, varied diet.
A weight-loss study at Baylor College in Houston, Texas recently compared the success rate of three groups: a diet only group (1200 calories per day); a diet and exercise group (same diet plus exercising three to five times per week; and an exercise only group. In one year the diet-only group shed an average of 15 lbs; the diet-and-exercise group lost an average of 20 lbs; and the exercise-only group last an average of just six lbs. However, by the second year of the study the combination group had regained an average of 15 lbs; the diet-only group had regained an average of 13 lbs; but the exercise only group had regained only an average of a pound, so they were actually better off than the diet-only group by an average of 3 lbs., and ended up with the same actual loss as the diet-and-exercise group, but without dieting!
Ken Goodrick, one of the study leaders, explains that dieting is just too difficult for most people to stay with it. Exercise offers a slower loss, but many other benefits, including increased motivation to eat a balanced, healthful diet.
So, the sooner you start exercising, the better-- make it a habit as early in life as you can (younger women benefit by increasing their peak bone mass, find exercise a mood enhancer, and immune system booster, and it can be helpful for PMS). But it's never too late-- a one-year study at the University of Missouri showed that previously sedentary postmenopausal women who did both low and high-impact exercise for as little as three 20-minute sessions a week were able to maintain their spinal bone density. Another study by researchers at Family Health International in Durham, North Carolina found that women between 40 and 54 who were physically active had significantly higher bone density in the spine and arms than a comparable group of sedentary women.
My inspiration is Dr. Ruth Heidrich of Hawaii. Dr. Heidrich endured a double mastectomy in her late 50's and did not know if she had long to live. She embarked on a very low-fat vegan diet and a challenging exercise program, as much for her mental health as for her physical health. She is a veteran of the Ironman triathalons and holds multiple age group records in Hawaii for races of every distance. Now in her 60's, she has been cancer-free for many years, has written two books, and travels around the world telling her story.
What is so amazing in relation to the topic at hand is that she has increased her bone density since age 50, and her bone density at 60 was higher than the average peak bone mass for a 30-year-old woman. She has been on a vegan diet (no dairy!) for several years, and has never taken estrogen or calcium. She credits this amazing achievement to exercise.
Other Ways to Protect Your Bones Naturally
Besides eating less protein overall, using soy protein instead of animal protein (this includes milk products, which, although high in calcium, also contain animal protein), and eating a reasonable amount of calcium-rich plant foods (see chart I gave you yesterday, in post below), and, of course, exercising, what else can you do to protect your bones?
Take your vitamin D! Vitamin D is crucial for the body because it regulates the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus, and yet most of us have been lulled into complacency about this vitamin because it has been added to dairy products (it does not occur naturally in dairy products). 15 minutes of daily sun exposure to face and arms (added up during the normal course of a day-- you don't have to sunbathe) is enough to produce sufficient vitamin D supplies from the provitamin D produced in our livers and present on the skin (slightly longer for people over fifty, because skin becomes less effective at absorbing vitamin D as we age), but many people do not get this sort of exposure anymore due to our (justifiable) fear of skin cancer when exposed to the sun's rays (many scientists believe that they are more harmful than in the past, due to damage to the earth's ozone layer), or the use of sunscreens, which if applied faithfully and having a sun protection factor (SPF) of over 8, have been shown to interfere with vitamin D production.
In addition, people who live in cooler climates (for North Americans, this means north of the 42 degree latitude parallel) have consistently lower blood levels of vitamin D than those living in more tropical climates. (If vitamin D status is adequate, it appears that the body can absorb calcium more efficiently when the calcium intake is low, but this may not compensate entirely for very low calcium intake during childhood, so make sure that your children eat calcium-rich plant foods AND get their vitamin D.) I take a plant-based vitamin D tablet daily from October to April-- 400 mg. a day. (Do not take more than 800 mg a day, as excessive amounts of vitamin D may cause more rapid calcium loss and megadoses may create heart and kidney problems.) During the sunny months, I make sure to get about 20 minutes of sun exposure (BEFORE I apply a sunscreen, but not during the extreme heat of the day) several times a week.
Quit smoking, or, better yet, never start smoking. The chemically-exposed ovaries of smoking women produce less estrogen, so they usually have a lower bone density BEFORE they start menopause. After menopause, smokers lose bone mass at a faster rate than non-smokers.
Cut down on caffeine consumption because it is thought to increase calcium excretion through the kidneys. This does not appear to be a serious problem with younger women unless they are heavy coffee consumers, but in postmenopausal women as little as two cups a day has been found to accelerate bone loss in those whose calcium intake is low.
Excessive amounts of sodium in the diet seems to interfere with calcium absorption as well. This doesn't mean that you have to ban salt from your diet. You're already ahead of the game if you follow a vegan diet because it is estimated that 75% of the sodium in the North American diet comes from cheese and packaged foods, which you probably seldom eat. Salt is added to cheese, but milk and meat are both naturally high in sodium. If you go easy on pickled foods, salted nuts, chips, popcorn and pretzels, etc., as well as follow a vegan diet with few packaged foods, you can use soy sauce and miso and salt your food moderately.
Too much phosphorous in the diet causes calcium to be excreted in the feces. This is of particular interest to young women who may have low calcium intake to start with, but drink alot of phosphorous-laden soft drinks and eat meat, which is also high in phosphorous.
Heavy drinking and alcoholism both reduces intestinal absorption and kidney excretion of calcium and other minerals. Intake of aluminum, from baking powders, antacids, and cooking pots, may also cause calcium excretion. Glucocorticorid therapy and use of other steriod-type drugs results in bone loss for the duration of its use.
Various other nutrients in the diet aid in calcium metabolism, calcium absorbtion, bone formation, etc..: vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid, manganese, zinc, copper, silicon, and strontium are all important, even if needed in only minute amounts. Fortunately for vegetarians, these nutrients are found in dark leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, nutritional yeast, and fresh vegetables.
#1-- SAMPLING OF WORLDWIDE STATISTICS ON ANIMAL PROTEIN AND CALCIUM INTAKE AND HIP-FRACTURE RATES (information from Simple Soybean and Your Health, by Messina and Messina):
Av. Daily Calcium Av. Daily Animal Protein Rate of Hip Fracture per 100,000
African 196 mg. 10.4 g 6.8
Singapore 389 mg. 24.7 g 21.7
Yugoslavia 588 mg. 27.3 g 27.6
U.S. 973 mg. 56.6 g 144.9
Norway 1087 mg. 66.6 g 190.4
#2-- HIGH RISK FACTORS FOR OSTEOPOROSIS
being fair-skinned, with light hair and eyes
being under 5'2"
being thin and small-boned
being under stress
being sedentary and having poor muscle tone
a history of eating disorders and/or extreme dieting
being on thyroid or steroid medication
-- CALCIUM ABSORBABILITY, CALCIUM OVERDOSE, AND THE ADVISABILITY OF CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTATION:
The body carefully regulates its calcium absorption. The average person only absorbs 30 to 70 % of the calcium ingested, and the more calcium taken in, the less the body will absorb. At the U.S. RDA of 800 mg a day, the body may absorb as little as 15% of the total amount. This is to prevent the body from overdosing on calcium and it is one reason that high calcium intake does not generally prevent bone loss. Many researchers believe that exercise and other factors have more to do with preventing osteoporosis than calcium intake. (It is not advisable to take in more than 2000 mg a day of calcium. Excess calcium can lead to painful kidney stones.)
After careful research, I do not believe that calcium supplements are advisable. It is easy to get enough calcium, even from a strictly plant-derived diet (see chart above and menu on p. ). Calcium needs to be balanced with magnesium and many other nutrients, so it is far better to get it in your food than in supplements. And you are better occupied with participating in weight-bearing activities, quitting smoking, and planning healthful, well-balanced, animal-protein-free meals than worrying about calcium intake!
Foods have varying rates of calcium absorbability. Low-oxalate vegetables such as kale, broccoli, turnip and mustard greens, and collards, have a higher rate of calcium absorbability than milk products, for instance. Eating a varied diet, taking advantage of the rich array of plant foods available to us, will answer your calcium needs.
A DAY'S SUPPLY OF CALCIUM FROM FOOD ALONE
One book I read when researching this topic gave a list of calcium-rich foods. In the text, the author stated that it was difficult to get more than 450 mg a day from foods alone and suggested that supplementation was necessary. However, in Food for Life, by Dr. Beal Barnard (Harmony Books, NY, 1993), a daily menu plan is given which provides over 800 mg of calcium. It is a very simple menu (not even any snacks and no soy except what might be used in the pancakes or cornbread), with moderate amounts of food, and no dairy products:
Breakfast: 3 medium pancakes and 1 orange (196 mg)
Lunch: 1 and 1/3 c. Campbell's Lentil Soup; 1 c. romaine lettuce and 1/2 tomato; 1 English muffin (170 mg)
Dinner: 1 c. vegetarian baked beans; 1 c. cooked broccoli; 2 oz. cornbread (439 mg)
TOTAL: 805 mg calcium
Here's another menu which I made up, which contains twice as much calcium, again with simple plant foods, but including about 3 and 1/2 servings of soy:
Breakfast: 1 c. hot fortified almond-flavored soymilk and two 7" waffles (658 mg)
Lunch: vegetarian chile made with 1 c. cooked pinto beans and 1/3 c. reconstituted textured soy protein; 2 corn tortillas; 1 c. cooked kale (570 mg)
Snack: a shake made from juice of one orange; 1/2 oz. isolated soy protein powder; 2 1/2 oz. silken tofu, and 1/2 a banana (160 mg)
Dinner: pasta e faglioi made from 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas, a carrot, 1 c. cooked macaroni; 1 c. cooked broccoli; 1 slice bread (290)
So, as you can see, it's easy to get enough calcium from foods, as long as you aren't just eating convenience foods.
BRYANNA’S LIST OF GOOD NONDAIRY SOURCES OF CALCIUM
Adapted from my book “Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause”.
Several brands of soymilk and orange juice are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients. Check the labels for more information. Some ready-to-eat cold breakfast cereals are also fortified with calcium.
Nuts, such as almonds, and seeds, such as sesame, also provide calcium, but they are so high in fat that I would not depend on them as a regular source of calcium, so I have not listed them here. However, for children, they can be a good source, since they need more fat. 1 c. of chopped almonds contains about 305 mg calcium; 125 ml (1/2 c.) contains 103 mg. calcium. Almond butter contains about 43 mg. Per T.; 11 filberts (hazelnuts) contains 35 mg.;. The winner is 2 T. whole unhulled (brown) sesame seeds, which contains 218 mgs! However, you won’t ingest any of this if the seeds are not very finely ground.
Seaweed is often touted as a good calcium source, but you have to eat so much of some of them that I don’t think it’s practical for most people. For instance, 2 strips of kombu contains 13 mg and a sheet of nori has about 7.5 mgs. However, two less common varieties have respectable amounts of calcium, if you like sea vegetables. About 7.8 g (approx. 1/4 cup) dried arame contains 67 mg; and the same amount of hijiki contains about 60 mg. (wakame only contains about 12 mg for the same amount).
I also have not listed high-oxalate foods such as spinach, chard, beets, beet greens, parsley, and rhubarb. Although these are high in calcium, the oxalates prevent much of it from being available to the body. There is no need to avoid these foods, since they are high in other nutrients, but don’t depend on them for calcium.
753 mg 3 ounces pressed or extra-firm tofu curdled with nigari and calcium sulphate
683 mg 3 ounces firm tofu curdled with calcium sulphate
377 mg 3 ounces pressed or extra-firm tofu made with nigari
357 mg 1 cup cooked collard greens
350 mg 3 ounces medium-firm tofu curdled with calcium suphate
280 mg 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
258 mg 1/2 cup (4 ounces) firm tofu made with nigari
252 mg 1 cup cooked turnip greens
232 mg 1/2 cup dry-roasted soybeans
206 mg 1 cup cooked kale
205 mg 3 ounces firm tofu curdled with magnesium chloride
200-300 mg 1 teaspoon baking powder
196 mg 2 corn tortillas or 16 baked tortilla chips
193 mg 1 cup cooked mustard greens
179 mg 7-inch waffle (made with baking powder),
176 mg 1 cup cooked okra
78 mg 1 cup cooked broccoli
158 mg 1 cup cooked bok choy
145 mg 3 ounces boiled green soybeans
115 mg 1/2 cup masa harina (the special corn flour used to make tortillas)
108 mg 1 cup baked acorn squash
125 mg 1/2 (12.3-ounce) package silken tofu
105 mg 3 ounces medium-firm tofu curdled with magnesium chloride
102 mg 1 ounce soy protein isolate powder
100 mg 4 ounces soy tempeh
100 mg 1 cup cooked chick-peas, white beans, or pinto beans
88 mg 1/2 cup cooked dried soybeans
83 mg 1/2 cup carrot juice
68 mg 1/4 cup dry textured soy protein (1/2 cup reconstituted)
62 mg 1 cup cooked green beans
56 mg 1 cup cooked potato
49 mg 1/2 cup okara (soybean pulp from making tofu or soymilk),
45 mg 1 tablespoon naturally fermented soy sauce
Post a Followup