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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Why New Zealand has high rates of osteoporosis despite huge calcium intake

Updated: Feb 19

Here's something to think about and you don't need to be a medical or nutrition expert to follow the logic:

  • New Zealand has one of the highest dietary intakes of calcium of any country.

  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis.

This does not compute!

Let's continue:

  • Calcium is but one of dozens of minerals found in bone, along with a whole lot of other nutrients. It happens to be the most abundant of the minerals found in bone.

  • Sand is the dominant ingredient in concrete.

  • Flour is the dominant ingredient of most cakes.

  • Does adding more sand to the concrete mix or flour to the cake mix while not proportionately adding more of the other ingredients make for stronger concrete or a better cake?

  • Does adding more calcium make for better, stronger bones without balancing it with the myriad of other nutrients?

I seriously think not!

Let's think more about this

  • Samoans and Tongans who follow their traditional lifestyles (hard to find any of these nowadays), before the soft drink, KFC and chippies came into the villages, are reputed to have the strongest bones in the world.

  • Can you find the calcium in their traditional diets?

  • Actually, there is not much at all but their diet of vegetables grown in rich volcanic soils, reef fish, etc, coconut, coconut and more coconut - supply trace minerals including potassium and phosphorus as well as protein and fatty acids - all essential for a strong bone recipe.

Why is it that nutrition and medical experts keep advocating increasing dietary calcium for strong bones when anyone with half a brain can figure out that its a really dumb idea?

We are a calcium-soaked society. Just look at the food advertising, especially that directed at mothers, children and women in general. It seems that just about every processed food on supermarket shelves has added calcium - read the labels. Even our veges are gown in calcium-enriched soils to make the veges taste sweeter and crunchier. Its crazy.

Our patterns of ill health, namely osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia, heart attack and stroke and even depression and thyroid disease may all be partly or be mostly due to a high calcium intake in the presence of low trace minerals and restricted protein and fat intakes.

It all makes such good sense when you come to think about it! I've been applying this nutritional logic for quite a few years for conditions ranging from athlete stress fractures through to reducing cardiovascular risk and even thyroid and fatigue. Gosh - even insomnia can be driven by too much calcium and not enough of the others!

By the way, when I was studying, the message given over and over again was that conditions like osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis are largely progressive and incurable and the best a practitioner can do with a patient is to manage the progress of the disease. What I now know is that these so-called irreversible conditions are actually reversible - but it does take time - years in fact, to turn the ship around.

The solution to nutrient balancing, which is what this is all about, is first assessing your current status with a reputable hair tissue mineral analysis (beware of the dodgy tests!), then have it interpreted by a health practitioner who is thoroughly trained in the interpretation (most have a poor understanding and sometimes get things wrong). This is important to do because about 10% of those tested actually need more calcium - not less.

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