top of page
  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

More about the Calcium Lie

You don't have to be a health professional, such as a nutritionist, to understand what I am about to explain. All you need is half a brain and a modicum of logic and common sense to understand that we have all been fed a load of cobblers about "more calcium being good for the bones". I am as guilty as anyone for having been sucked into believing the Calcium Lie.

Think about these statements:

  • "Calcium builds strong bones"

  • "New Zealand has the highest intake of calcium per capita of any country"

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

"Samoans and Tongans who follow traditional lifestyles, which includes low dietary calcium, have the strongest bones on the planet".

About now, the robot in the classic Sci Fi series "Lost in Space", is crying "Warning! Warning! This does not compute! This does not compute!"

It is easy to see that there is a huge conflict of logic in these three statements. By the way, you are doing much better than those sage experts who spent many years at university learning that calcium builds strong bones. The statement that "calcium builds strong bones" has been repeated so often by the High Priests of medical and nutrition science that it has become an obvious truth - a "truism" - a fact that is so obvious and so far beyond dispute that it is blindly accepted as an indisputable truth.

I'll throw in another contradictory statement here:

"Samoans and Tongans who follow traditional lifestyles, which includes low dietary calcium, have the strongest bones on the planet".

Careers and reputations have been built on this statement which turns out to one big fat lie. This is one reason why the lie persists despite all the evidence that calcium does not build strong bones.

About 70% of all health advice turns out to be fully or partly wrong

Look; don't feel ashamed if you got sucked in by the propaganda. You are not alone. I was suckered as well. Its not about who is right or wrong, its about being man or woman enough to admit it, put it right and move on.

Truisms can be a dangerous trap for the naive:

Are there any truisms in medicine? There are many with one of the most outrageous being the undisputed truth that more calcium = stronger bones.

"Contrary to what some people believe, the word truism is not a more elegant word for truth. While the word truth can occasionally be used to refer to a “truism,” since truisms are often true, the reverse—the use of truism to mean “truth”—is unwise.

Truism stands for a certain kind of truth—a cliché, a platitude, something so self-evident that it is hardly worth mentioning. One can use it to accuse another writer or speaker of saying something so obvious or evident and trite that pointing it out is pointless.

To say that a statement is a truism when you intend to compliment it as truthful, factual, even provable, will merely serve to confuse those who know that calling something a truism is not praise, but a criticism or insult.

Note, however, that truism is used in a technical sense in mathematics or philosophy for restating something that is already known from its terms or premises.

Examples of such truisms include: “Men are not women” and“Since the circumference of a circle equals twice the radius multiplied by π(2π r), it equals the diameter multiplied by π (π d).”

Let's explore the calcium lie further

How to bake a better cake

Your favourite cake recipe consists of mostly flour, plus a dozen other ingredients, some as little as a couple of pinches. If we were to apply the more calcium makes for stronger bones logic then you would be able to make a better cake by doubling the amount of flour while ignoring the other ingredient, some of them trace.

Would you get a better cake by doubling the amount of flour in your recipe? No - you will have an unpalatable mess!

Any good cook will tell you that the way to bake a better cake is to start with the best quality ingredients and then to add them in the right order in the most precise measures then mix well in exact accordance with the recipe. Merely increasing the main ingredient is nuts.

How about another example just to ram the point home?

How to make better concrete

Sand is the main ingredient of concrete. If we were to apply the more calcium makes for stronger bones logic for making stronger concrete, then adding more sand to the mix will give us really strong concrete.

Will this give you stronger concrete? Of course not: you will have a crumbling mess on your hands!

Like the baking of the cake, the way to producing stronger concrete is to start with the best ingredients and then to thoroughly mix them together in precise amounts according to the recipe.

The same is with bone. If you want to build strong bone you need to ensure there are the hundreds of nutrients that make up healthy bone of which calcium is but one. And ensure these are of the highest quality and as close to the right ratios as one can get.

The Pacific Islands contradiction

My partner, Alofa, is Samoan. She is strong. Samoans and Tongans have the strongest bones of any race, or at least they used to before fast foods. When you look at the traditional Pacific Islands diets before the KFC, McDonald's and soft drinks came in, I challenge you to identify the calcium in their diets? You are right, there is hardly any at all, yet they have such strong bones!

What is present in their traditional diets is lots of trace nutrients such as potassium, manganese, phosphorus, iodine, vitamin D from sunshine and lots of saturated fat from coconut and avocado.

Is there enough calcium in our diets?

When conducting the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis on people I estimate about 80% of the thousands I have done so far need less calcium - not more. My conclusion and that of experts such as Dr William Thompson, author of the "Calcium Lie", is that there is too much calcium in the food chain and not enough of the other trace nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, strontium and nutrients such as the fat soluble vitamins, fatty acids and amino acids. This calcium excess, in the presence of low levels of trace nutrients, really messes with the "bone recipe" and may be the main driver for weak bones and not so much caused by a lack of exercise.

Calcium is BIG business

Calcium has been aggressively marketed to children, young women and older women for decades. Calcium is added to many foods on the basis that it is "good for strong bones". It is only good for bones when it is in balance with a hundred other nutrients. Adding calcium at the expense of other nutrients is dumb nutrition even if it increases the profits for a company.

Unfortunately for all of us, calcium will be pushed by big business regardless of the science (and common sense) for as long as doing so continues to be profitable. Calcium and the associated fear of osteoporosis sells. And guess who has so much influence on the training of nutritionists and nutrition research? The food industry - of course!

How to tell if calcium is in excess relative to other nutrients

The best way to ensure the right dietary balance is to complete the InterClinical HTMA and go from there.

How can you tell if calcium is in excess?

A visible sign of there being too much calcium in the circulation is rosy red cheeks, especially when stressed. Rosy red cheeks is the new "healthy" in children because it is now an almost universal look in children and young adults. This is not healthy. It indicates a magnesium deficiency relative to calcium and will lead to problems with insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, cramps, migraines, heart disease, arthritis, depression, gall bladder stones, thyroid disease, cataracts, weight gain, fibromyalgia, excessive perspiration - and osteoporosis!

I call it the "Heidi Syndrome", named in honor of Heidi the Milk Maid from the 60's musicals, high up in the Swiss Alps, milking her cows while singing "Yodelly-yo-ha-ha-ha!" Or something like that.

How to build very strong bones

As a general rule of thumb, if you do not have a HTMA to guide you, I advise that you avoid any foods that claim to build strong bones or which have added calcium. Please read the labels. You will discover that calcium is added to many processed foods.

According to the HTMA there is only about a 20% chance that you need more calcium and an 80% chance that you need less; but get that HTMA done so as to take out the guessing please!

  • Prepare foods from their raw ingredients.

  • Make bone broths and have a cup of bone broth each day.

  • Get rid of processed refined salt and replace it with generous amounts of unrefined salt that contain 50 or more trace elements (the HTMA will tell us if you need more or less sodium).

  • Ensure your diet is rich in a wide range of unprocessed fats and proteins.

  • Ensure you get some vitamin D, either from the sun, from food such as liver or from a natural vitamin D supplement.

I do have some special nutraceuticals that have been shown in studies to shift calcium from soft tissues into the bones; but you will have to