How many of us are aware that consuming too much beef, chicken, lamb, duck, pork and milk can rob the body of precious calcium? It is little known that calcium-rich plant foods, are in fact the best sources of the enablers of calcium metabolism.
Indeed, an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article entitled, ‘Incidence of osteoporosis in vegetarians and omnivores,’ cited that vegetarians were even found to have greater bone mass than meat eaters and I believe that to be true.
The high-protein diet of those meat eaters decreases calcium in the body. Dr Neil Nedley, MD and author of ‘Proof Positive – How to Reliably Combat Disease and Achieve Optimal Health through Nutrition and Lifestyle,’ states that research evidence indicates that an excessive diet of animal protein increases the risk of osteoporosis. His conclusions state, “Study after study indicate that eating meat can cause a loss of calcium from the body.”
Research done at the University of Wisconsin illustrated particularly well the harmful effects of excess protein. The studies by Linkswiller in 1981 involving three groups showed that the high protein intake group lost calcium every day simply because of their high protein consumption. The excessive protein was essentially leeching calcium from their bones even though they were getting adequate and appropriate levels of calcium in their diet.
A further study, this time from Purdue University cited that humans absorb as much even more calcium in plant products than they do from cows. Interestingly, the Group’s study also showed that although milk is high in calcium, 60 to 80% of it is not absorbed through the human intestine.
The reasons why vegetarians have stronger bones and fewer calcium deficiencies in general have been put down to:
- The digestion of meat results in acids that neutralise calcium and other alkaline minerals;
- Sulphur and phosphorous, both present in meat, limit calcium absorption;
- Meat is rich in saturated fats, which combine with calcium to form a compound that is eliminated by the body rather than absorbed.
The study by Nedley identified plant sources of calcium to include soybeans and leafy greens, oatmeal, lentils, quinoa grain, baked beans, dried sesame seeds, kale, dried hazelnuts and dried figs. Nedley said some leafy greens, aside from being good sources of calcium, have properties that help prevent cancer.