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Why Milk, Medication And Calcium Supplements Are Ineffective Against Osteoporosis?

Why Milk, Medication And Calcium Supplements Are Ineffective Against Osteoporosis?

Home » Health » Why Milk, Medication And Calcium Supplements Are Ineffective Against Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis causes bones to become so weak and brittle that a fall, bending over or even coughing can cause a fracture. Such fractures generally occur in the hips, wrist or spine. Though osteoporosis affects men and women of all races, women are more susceptible to osteoporosis.


In fact, in one scientific study, out of 4,957 women aged 67 or above from the United States, 1224 were diagnosed with osteoporosis based on bone mineral density test results. A bone mineral density test measures the concentration of minerals in ones bone against that of an average young adult. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women aged 65 and older be screened routinely for osteoporosis. Questions regarding the accuracy of the test arise when many elderly women do not have ‘normal’ bone mineral density and are diagnosed with a disease based on that single test result – so do these women really suffer from osteoporosis?


After achieving peak bone mass by 30 years old, women gradually lose bone mass until menopause, when bone loss accelerates dramatically. Age-related bone loss is most rapid the first three years after menopause. After that, the rate of bone loss tapers off.


Because bone mineral density tests measure bones against that of a young adult, this normal and natural bone loss often causes postmenopausal women to be identified as having low bone mineral density and diagnosed with osteoporosis. As are result, many of these women are recommended medication, calcium pills and dairy products to alleviate their condition.


However, these recommendation does not help much with osteoporosis and we share why this may be so.


1. Calcium Pills

To prevent osteoporosis, the first thing that comes to most of mind is to take calcium pills, which incidentally is quite popular, consuming anywhere 1000 from 1500mg of calcium daily.


However, increasing calcium intake seems to offer little protection against osteoporosis. Furthermore, very little of such high amounts of calcium can be absorbed. As a matter of fact, calcium absorption decreases with age.


This is because, while during the growing years, the rate of calcium absorption is rapid (for instance, a baby absorbs up to 400mg of calcium a day and excretes only 10 to 40 mg), in comparison, unlike children and teenagers, adults only absorb 20% to 30% of calcium consumed, with the figure even lower for postmenopausal women at no more than 7%.


Researchers has reviewed 19 studies involving 2859 children and found that calcium supplementation only had a small effect on bone mineral density, which is unlikely to reduce the risk of fracture, either in childhood or later life.


Harmful Side Effects Of Calcium Supplements


Calcium absorption is a complex process involving several parts of the body (for example, the digestive system and kidneys). Poor kidney function can cause calcium to accumulate in soft tissues instead of bones, possibly leading to arthritis, heart disease, andsenile dementia.


When excess consumed calcium is not automatically excreted, it can threaten one’s health. A meta-analysis revealed an increase in risk of hip fracture associated with women’s use of supplemental calcium, leading scientists to suggest that it is not appropriate for older women to rely on high calcium intake to reduce hip fracture risk.


An analysis of about 12,000 participants from 11 randomized controlled trials showed that calcium supplements, without co-administered vitamin D, are associated with an increased risk of heart attack. Compared to placebo, calcium supplements increased heart attack risk by around 30%. Additionally, research has also shown that calcium supplements accelerate blood vessel calcification and increase mortality in kidney failure patients.


2. Drinking Milk?


Milk is commonly thought to help build strong bones, as it is rich in calcium, a mineral essential for bone health. Not so, as there is little evidence that increasing milk intake will aid in building bones. A study published in ‘The BMJ’ (formerly British Medical Journal) reported that women who consumed three or more glasses of milk a day had a higher risk of fracture and death. Men whodrank three or more glasses of milk a day had a slightly higher risk of death-mostly associated with cardiovascular death-compared to those who drank less than one glass a day.


There was no reduced risk of fracture as milk consumption increased. On the contrary, the researchers has found that milk intake was associated with oxidative stress, which is linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Milk contains a sugar called D-galactose,which induces aging In animals and is linked to increased oxidative stress and inflammation.


High intakes of milk nnay also Incr ease the risk of ovarian and prostate cancers. Furthermore, milk contains calories and cholesterol that contribute to the intake of fat. As a result, scientists have now suggested that recommendations to take at least three servings of milk or other dairy products daily are excessive.


Scientists have also highlighted that humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk. Furthermore, about 65% of the world’s population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, which is found in milk, after infancy. There is also not enough scientific evidence to support milk consumption guidelines.


In fact, all nutritional needs can be satisfied with a high-quality diet that includes green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.


Milk is also high in animal protein, which may contribute to calcium loss. Populations with the highest animal protein intakes have the highest rates of hip fractures among women. Eskimos, for example, have high animal protein intakes and very weak bones.


Most proteins consumed are broken down into amino acids. Proteins and amino acids are acidic, and the body must neutralize excess amounts of these substances to prevent any harm by dissolving bone material to provide calcium and phosphates. While phosphate neutralizes the amino acids, the freed calcium ions are made available to be excreted by the kidneys into urine.


Animal proteins have a very high content of sulfur-containing amino acids such as methionine and cysteine, which have a powerful effect on the kidneys’ calcium excretion. Thus, animal protein is more likely to cause calcium loss than plant protein.


Therefore, adding calcium to the diet will not compensate for the loss caused by excess protein intake.


3. Medication Such As Alendronate


Those with low bone mineral density are sometimes prescribed drugs such as alendronate to slow bone loss while increasing bone mass. A study showed that continuous usage of alendronate for four years helped to slow bone loss in women who were free of fractures but had low bone mineral density.


However, the absolute risk reduction of fracture was only 1.7%. Drugs can cause side effects and interactions may occur between the different medications a person
is taking.

Madeline Kwan

Madeline graduated with honours in Bachelor of Science Dietetics with Nutrition and is now pursuing the Master Of Science (Health Sciences) course. Currently working as clinical dietitian in a private health institution in Singapore, Madeline shares her passion for nutrition & diet education, repoductive health and general fitness tips by in her articles for YesMyWellness.com. She is also involved in a number of community projects, which includes travelling to rural areas in South East Asia conducting talks, workshops, health checks.

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