Posts Tagged ‘Calcium’
“Why did I Fracture?” and “Why do I have Osteoporosis?” are common questions I hear from older women and men. They are taking Calcium and Vitamin D3, eating a diet with Protein, Fruits and Vegetables, and Exercising regularly. They are “doing everything right”, and still they have deteriorating bones. What is wrong?
The simple answer is “Birthday Disease” – too many birthdays. Increased Fracture Risk (Clinical Osteoporosis) is totally natural as we age. Women after Menopause, and men after age 70, lose 1-2% of their Bone Mineral Density (BMD), and more of their Bone Strength, every year.
When I was in Medical School, 40 years ago, that was the end of the story. Many older women (and some older men) became kyphotic (stooped over), fractured and fell, and either died or went to a nursing home for the rest of their lives. Then, there was nothing we could do to stop it. Today we can often prevent osteoporosis, fractures and misery.
Two weeks after Turkey Coma at Thanksgiving dinner, we think we get plenty of protein. We do occasionally. Most of us do not get enough protein on a daily basis. The latest recommendation is one gram of protein daily for every kilogram of body weight. That works out to a lot more than I thought. See our Protein Chart.
Vegans have a real challenge eating enough protein in nuts, beans, garbanzos, lentils, and soy. Most traditional Vegetarians add yogurt, cheese, and milk, which are all good sources of protein. Some add shellfish and crustaceans.
Protein is the main component of much of our body, including Muscle and Bone. Over 90% of Muscle. Over 80% of Bone. Therefore, enough Protein is necessary for Fracture Prevention.
“But, I don’t want to get fat” was the constant refrain of a patient who consistantly lost weight, lost muscle mass, and fractured again. Despite urging bordering on harassment, from her friends, she avoided meats and other proteins, most vegetables, fiber, and starches. She often found room for desserts.
Her muscles were so weak that she had trouble rising from a chair. Her walk had become a slow shuffle. Her skin became tissue-paper thin. Her Body Mass Index (BMI) had fallen far into the danger zone of below 19. It is possible to be Too Thin. Persons with a BMI below 19 are at increased Fracture Risk, and increased Risk of Death From All Causes.
We can get ALL of our Calcium from foods. We need 1200-1500 mg daily, especially if we have not been getting that much for years. Most of us have not been getting enough Calcium – or our Vitamin D levels have been too low to absorb all we cansume.
Your body can absorb only 500-600 mg of Calcium at each meal. Therefore you must spread out your calcium over 3 meals a day. Do NOT exceed 2,000 mg Calcium daily. Too much Calcium can be bad for kidneys or heart.
Chart of common foods high in Calcium in mg (adapted from the USDA website):