Protein Consumption and Bone Loss
By Hans Diehl, M.D. www.chiphealth.com
Eskimos consume diets extremely high in both protein (250 to 400 gm/day) and calcium (1,500 to 2,500 mg/day). In spite of their high calcium intake and the very active lives they lead, they have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world.
The Bantu tribes in Africa, on the other hand, consume an average of 50 grams of protein and less than 400 mg of calcium a day, predominantly from plant foods. Yet, even though Bantu women bear an average of 10 children, making special demands on calcium reserves, they are essentially free of osteoporosis (bone loss). In contrast, relatives of the Bantu who have migrated to the United States and adopted the American dietary lifestyle eventually experience a rate of osteoporosis comparable to that of the rest of the American population.
How About Prevention?
Most populations around the world average 400 mg of calcium a day without any evidence of osteoporosis. It’s strangely paradoxical that osteoporosis has become epidemic in the United States, where the consumption of calcium-rich dairy products and calcium supplements is the highest in the world.
But North Americans also eat two to three times more protein than they need. Reducing protein intake to the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 50 to 60 grams a day, along with daily active exercise and a healthful diet low in salt, phosphorus, and caffeine, holds promise of turning the tide in the battle against brittle bones.