» Blog
» Calcium Supplementation and Dairy
Calcium Supplementation and Dairy

The Myths of Calcium Supplementation and Dairy

Posted At : July 30, 2010 3:22 PM | Posted By : Dr James L. Chestnut
Related Categories:GeneralEat Well

Adaptation of Inuit children to a low-calcium diet. Canadian Medical Association Journal April, 2003
Elizabeth A.C. Sellers, Atul Sharma, Celia Rodd

Remember, in science, the QUESTION, INTERPRETATION, AND APPLICATION are EVERYTHING. Conducting a research study is elementary. It is the formulation of the question and the accurate interpretation and application of the results that requires intellect, knowledge, and, most importantly, ethics.

Just to give you an idea of how important it is to READ the methodology section and to be able to pose the RIGHT QUESTION, ensure the conclusion is based ONLY on the question posed, and to accurately INTERPRET and APPLY the results, let's look at a study regarding calcium supplementation in Inuit children.

First, of these 10 "healthy children" 4 had appendix removed, 2 had been treated for cutaneous infection, one had tonsils removed, two were healing from fractured bones, and one had developmental delay. That means ten out of ten had health issues YET these kids were described as HEALTHY subjects. The truth is that all the subjects were from a hospital - who goes to a hospital if they are healthy??

They then fed these kids calcium (from rocks NOT from vegetables or red meat - i.e. blood) and lo and behold the kids had issues. They then concluded that caution should be taken when recommending the standard North American diet to Inuits (I agree, NOBODY should follow these recommendations). They hypothesize that this is because the Inuit have genetically adapted (bb vit D receptor genotype) to low calcium diets and are able to absorb calcium better and thus recommending the North American food guideline calcium daily intake amount may be harmful. These Inuit children had a higher distribution of the bb vit D receptor genotype than whites but similar to many Asians.

Now, here is what we know. Asians eat a LOT of vegetables and get MORE calcium than North American whites (unless the North American whites are taking calcium supplements - ground up chalk, coral, egg shells, or rocks NOT organic plant-based calcium). Importantly, Asians are NOT plagued with hypercalciuria issues and in fact are LESS likely to suffer from such issues. Remember, this is despite the fact that they consume a lot of vegetables and thus a lot of calcium compared to non-supplementing North Americans. Asians have HIGHER organic calcium levels but lower levels of inorganic calcium. Asians also have much lower rates of osteoporosis!

So, what this study ACTUALLY tells us is that 10 sick Inuit kids (called healthy by medical researchers because they were not diagnosed with any specific hypercalciuria issues) who were given calcium in amounts and in a form not suited for the human species, showed signs of hypercalciuria (increased blood calcium levels).

Here is what this study cannot tell us. It cannot tell us whether increasing vegetable and thus calcium intake in a form suited for the human species would have created the same issues. We do know the BENEFITS of increased vegetable intake with respect to reduction in cancer, heart disease, obesity, syndrome X etc but let's ignore the benefits of a good diet for now because this is not relevant to the study of a reductionist study on calcium supplementation and hypercalciuria.

We also know that the North American guidelines regarding calcium intake are based on the assumption that these calcium levels will be met from dairy and/or supplementation with non-plant source calcium. For clarification, the calcium in dairy products IS NOT plant-sourced because dairy cows are fed GRAIN not plants. For this reason they have to FORTIFY dairy products with calcium supplements from non-plant source materials. They then suggest that dairy products are a good dietary source of calcium. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!

So, here is what you should take from this study. Giving ground up egg shells, rocks, coral, or oyster shells to 10 Inuit children in a hospital caused hypercalciuria issues. Inuit children appear to have a higher incidence of the bb vit D receptor. That's it. No other information can be derived from this study. Every other aspect of the conclusions is based on conjecture, on opinion which is almost certainly based on the false presuppositions that non-plant calcium has the same effect on human physiology as genetically congruent plant-based calcium and that the North American dietary guidelines are valid. Wrong and wrong.

Humans who eat the most vegetables and consume the least dairy products HAVE THE HEALTHIEST BONES, THE LEAST AMOUNT OF OSTEOPOROSIS.

All dairy products are is an expensive delivery system for an inexpensive, ineffective, and genetically incongruent calcium supplement. If you are drinking dairy for calcium you have been DOOPED. Why not simply take a calcium supplement which is calorie-free, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and pesticide-free. At least ground up rocks and shells are inexpensive and free of the contaminants known to be in milk!

Or, you could eat more vegetables which, unlike ANY DAIRY STUDY EVER CONDUCTED, has been shown to increase bone density!!

Eating more vegetables also decreases your chance for cancer and every other chronic illness, improves digestion, provides essential micronutrients, and improves overall health and vitality.

You could also exercise which is also shown to improve bone density and overall health - EVEN WITHOUT INCREASING CALCIUM INTAKE!! Bone density issues are not simply calcium deficiency issues and they are most certainly not ground shells and rocks deficiency issues.

Bone density issues are dietary and exercise issues. Thinking you can simply take more calcium and build healthy bone is about as logical as thinking you can ingest more protein, sit on the couch, and build bigger muscle. Absurd!

Here are my recommendations. Now these are based on science and logic so they will probably be shocking to most of you.

Eat LESS dairy.
Eat MORE vegetables.
Do MORE exercise.

Dr. James L. Chestnut B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C., C.C.W.P. 

Idaho Chiropractic Group:  Dr. Corey Matthews and Dr. Timothy Klena

403 S. 11th St. #110 Boise, Idaho 83702   208-343-6900