High-Calcium Diets Probably Cause Osteoporosis

At least every 5 years, the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices are required by fed­er­al law to issue Dietary Guide­lines for Amer­i­cans. Accord­ing to the law, these guide­lines are sup­posed to be based on the best avail­able sci­ence. Yet some of their rec­om­men­da­tions don’t seem to have any basis in sci­ence at all. In par­tic­u­lar, I think that their rec­om­men­da­tions about cal­ci­um intake will make the prob­lem of osteo­poro­sis worse, not bet­ter.

The USDA claims that Amer­i­cans aren’t get­ting enough cal­ci­um in their diets and that they need to con­sume more cow’s milk and oth­er dairy prod­ucts. Yet why should I imag­ine that human beings need to drink any cow’s milk at all? Every oth­er ani­mal species on the face of the plan­et gets enough cal­ci­um from its food with­out drink­ing any milk at all from anoth­er species. Only mam­mals drink milk, and all they get is their mother’s milk dur­ing infan­cy. In fact, most human beings through­out most of the his­to­ry of our species didn’t con­sume any dairy prod­ucts at all. So why should I imag­ine that adult human beings need the equiv­a­lent of 3 glass­es of skim milk every day? It makes no sense.

From what I’ve seen, it’s real­ly hard to find any cas­es of any­one who got sick or had any prob­lems with their bones or teeth because of a low-cal­ci­um diet. The human body is actu­al­ly real­ly good at adapt­ing to a low cal­ci­um intake. A review of the lit­er­a­ture found that there’s no con­sis­tent evi­dence that dairy prod­ucts help chil­dren build stronger bones and teeth. Worse yet, we’ve known for more than 20 years that a high-pro­tein, high-cal­ci­um diet prob­a­bly caus­es osteo­poro­sis. In oth­er words, the USDA is mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions that aren’t based on the best avail­able sci­ence. That is a seri­ous vio­la­tion of fed­er­al law.

Pho­to by robert.claypool

Behind Barbed Wire_PrintNote: As I explain in my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2, there is strong evi­dence that a pro­tein in cow’s milk could be the under­ly­ing cause of most cas­es of type 1 dia­betes.

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