There has been an increased amount of studies as this disease affects mostly women and raises several diverging views as to its cause. Diverging views? Yes, especially in respect to the role of calcium. Contrary to what we were taught at home and in school, which was to consume as much dairy products as possible in order to reduce the risks of osteoporosis and maintain healthy bones, we now know that not all health professional approve of this. Surprised?  Read on.

First, what is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disorder characterized by low bone density and bone tissue deterioration, leading to bone fragility and an increase in fracture risk.  As we can see, this disease is serious.

First, it’s important to understand that the massive campaigns and advertisements that have led people to firmly believe that consuming large quantities of dairy products was good for their health were supported by dairy lobbyists. The reality of these campaigns is that the objective was more financial than promoting the health of the public.  We thus want to differentiate what is correct and what is misinformation.

Dairy products are rich in calcium and are important for the health of your bones.  We should not banish them from our diet.  What is important to understand is that calcium is no more important than the other nutrients necessary for healthy bones. The problem lies in the overconsumption of calcium.  When consumed in excess, calcium goes through the body rather than adhere to the bony walls. This causes an imbalance in the body and prevents it from working properly.  In the case of calcium, we need to have enough but not too much.

But then, how can we prevent osteoporosis? It is possible to reduce our chances of developing this disease without over consuming dairy products. Let’s see some examples.

Exercise is a good way to reinforce our bones. When we practice a physical activity like running or jumping rope, our bones are subjected to pressure making them more resistant. Not to mention that exercise helps reinforce our muscles which in turns improves our overall balance making the risk of falls and fractures much lower.

Another key factor is the adequate consumption of vitamin D.  As calcium, vitamin D is essential to ensure good bone health. Unfortunately the Sun cannot be our only source of vitamin D.  It is also found in fatty fish such as herring, salmon or sardines. So go outside to fill up of sun and include fatty fishes in your diet to get adequate vitamin D.

Vitamin K and potassium are not to be overlooked. Choose vegetables that are high in these nutrients.

In conclusion, yes calcium is important for bone growth and bone health, but our overconsumption of dairy products results in the fact that other important nutrients are not considered.  Despite the many campaigns, we must understand that only consuming large quantities of dairy products does not make bones stronger. Quality is just as important as quantity in the prevention of osteoporosis. So, do not forget that the lack of calcium is not the only cause of the development of this disease.

 

 

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– KANIS, JA et al. «Perspective : the diagnosis of osteoporosis.», 1994.

– SOUCCAR, Thierry. «Solution globale contre l’ostéoporose.» Santé Nature Innovation, n.11, Août 2012, p.4.

– VACHON, Carol. «Le lait protège-t-il contre l’ostéoporose?», Québec, 1996, p.68