|"They" say that "Brittle Bone" disease, osteoporosis, is caused by
a calcium deficiency. "They" say that we should consume more calcium
or take calcium supplements. "They've" been saying it for more than
20 years. Commercial interests have promoted food products with added
calcium for about that long. And osteoporosis is a bigger problem
today than ever before. Is it reasonable to keep doing what doesn't
What is Bone?Sometimes you will hear or see statements that calcium is the main component in bone. This is not true. Bone is a composite material made of 80% collagenous protein (we'll call it cartilage) and 20% mineral, by volume. The mineral component is dispersed in a matrix of cartilage. The mineral component is made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, boron, manganese and copper. The cartilage is the bendy part, the minerals the stiffening agent.
One way to visualize the structure of bone is to think of it as a sponge. The sponge corresponds to the collagen (cartilage), and the small pockets in the sponge to the places where the mineral is deposited. A deficiency in calcium (osteomalacia) has the pockets empty of mineral. Osteoporosis corresponds to the places where the sponge itself is missing. Clearly, no amount of calcium can take the place of the missing sponge.
Does a Calcium Deficiency Result in Osteoporosis?Let's apply logic to the problem. Newborn babies have "rubber" bones. They bend, but do not break. As the infant grows, calcium is added to the bones and the bones become stiffer. The child does not go through a period of brittle bones as he grows from rubber bones to strong and healthy bones. If a lack of calcium in the bones caused the brittleness, how does the child escape? Why don't children break their bones every time they fall?
Because lack of calcium does not make bones brittle? If you would like to test this idea for yourself, take the drumstick from a piece of fried chicken (or baked or boiled, or even raw). After removing all the meat and cartilage, try bending the bone. You can't, right? Put the bone in jar full of vinegar and set it aside for about a week. The vinegar will dissolve the calcium right out of the bone. After the week has passed, remove the lid, and try bending the bone again. This time you will be able to bend the bone in a "circle", touching the two ends without the bone breaking. No calcium, and no brittle bone.
Bone DiseasesIf a child does not get enough vitamin D, he develops a condition called Rickets, which is a condition of not enough calcium being deposited in the bones, leaving them "bendy". If this is not corrected, the child may develop permanently bent legs, and will be bow-legged for life.
Those who suffer from alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver are prone to two bone diseases, osteoporosis and osteomalacia (sometimes called adult onset rickets). In osteoporosis, the bones thin and become brittle. In osteomalacia, the bones are bendy, and may be painful if the person puts strain on them. Just as in children, this is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which caused the calcium to leach out of the bones. How is it that there could be two diseases where calcium is deficient and one causes brittleness and the other causes bending?
Asian women are prone to "dowager's hump" as they age, but not to osteoporosis. They do not have "brittle bones" Their traditional diet that is very low in calcium, but ample in fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Myth in SocietyThe preponderance of advertising about osteoporosis in the U.S. is aimed at women, who do suffer more broken bones from the problem. However, that's not true world-wide. In some countries, men suffer twice as many broken bones from osteoporosis as women. In particular, menopausal women seem to be the targets of advertising, presumable because the falling production of estrogen is the precipitating cause. Yet, only one quarter of women will ever suffer the effects of osteoporosis. Do the rest not have declining estrogen levels? And what about women in other cultures? Do they not have declining estrogen levels?
Physicians will prescribe estrogen for women who suffer from loss of bone density, but it does not reverse osteoporosis. Nor do any other AMA-approved drugs. In some cases, they appear to stop the progressive loss, but with a frequent side effect of making the bones even more brittle. A search of the literature will show that no claim is made that increasing bone density reduces fractures.
In technical articles about osteoporosis, the discussion includes the fact that the bone becomes porous, with small holes in the bone matrix. It is into these holes that conventional medicine tries to force calcium. But what if the holes are holes in the cartilage? There is evidence that homocysteine and glucocorticoid treatment (prednisone) also damage bone. More minerals in less cartilage would make a bone more brittle, wouldn't it?
If Not Calcium, Then What?So let's consider what makes cartilage. Cartilage is a protein substance requiring vitamin C for its formation. Since people take in varying amounts of vitamin C, there might be a reason for some people to get osteoporosis and not others. Since many people eat fewer fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter, that might explain the statistical increase in fractures in the winter and early spring.
We know of no study that has attempted to make this connection. But since most studies are funded by pharmaceutical companies, and they have no incentive to cut into the sales of prescription drugs, perhaps that's not surprising.
Most likely osteoporosis is not a deficiency disease of only one nutrient. Probably several elements must be missing before the symptoms develop. But since doctors, cereal companies, and pharmaceutical companies have tried adding calcium without making a significant impact on the problem, maybe it is time to try adding the other major nutrient that goes to make bone, vitamin C.
And nobody is talking about the impact that the mind has on the body.
But there are indications that a number of emotional conditions affect
|If you would like a fairly technical reference to bone formation and bone conditions check this site: http://www.rxforwellness.com/articlearchives/rx_osteoporasis.shtml|
|For medical abstracts about vitamin C and its impact on collagen, see
|For information on homocysteine and bone, see the following:
|For information on glucocorticoids and bone, see the following:
For medical abstracts about the impact of emotion on osteoporosis, see the following:
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