This morning I am mostly thinking aloud, so forgive me for what might end up being a somewhat disjointed blog. I am bothered by the fact that decreasing bone density is an increasing problem in our society. This, despite the fact that calcium supplements and prescription medicines are increasingly becoming part of our daily consumption. This, despite the fact that weight bearing exercises have become an integral part of both gender’s fitness routines.
Sometimes, I think that all the supplementation might actually be sabotaging our natural ability to produce the very vitamins and minerals we are supplementing. I remember years ago, reading in Diet for a New America, that drinking cow’s milk was actually causing our bodies to produce less calcium as it was detecting enough from the milk, but perhaps that wasn’t the best source for absorption. Is cow’s milk natural for a human? This is a topic for another blog, but did cause me to pause and ponder about what foods best fuel our health.
This question was reinforced when I went to donate blood after eliminating meat and most animal products from my own diet. Naturally, I was concerned about my iron levels, which had previously been too low to be a donor. Ironically (or not so ironically) once I gave up most animal products (I do eat fish, eggs and minimal cheese), my iron levels rose to perfection. Could be coincidence, could be that I eat much more healthfully than I did years ago. Or, it could be that I am absorbing the calcium from leafy green veggies and soy-milk more readily than I was from the more traditional calcium products. Now in menopause, I admit to NOT taking calcium/Vitamin D supplements because I am not sure I believe in them. I think they, too, might sabotage my natural abilities to produce and absorb both. I live in South Florida where vitamin D is quite abundant and thankfully, after recent testing, my levels are good. I wonder about others who have gotten results showing deficiencies. Makes no sense to be deficient of D in the sunshine state!
Just last week I read an article on bone health and phosphorus additives. Here we go again! Phosphorus plays a really important part in our bone health. Next to calcium, it’s the most abundant mineral in our bodies with about 85 percent stored in our bones and teeth. The recommended daily intake of phosphorus for adults is 700 mg. Natural deficiencies are rare as it is abundant in both animal and plants sources. It is also present in a number of foods and beverages, in the form of phosphorus additives.
Phosphorus additives are increasingly being used in processed and fast foods, meat, cheeses, baked goods and beverages. They are commonly added as preservatives, leavening agents and flavor enhancers. Research published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition showed that dishes served at 15 popular fast food chains revealed very few choices that did NOT contain some type of phosphorus additive. Added to soda in the form of phosphoric acid, it is also found in flavored and fortified water and juice, canned and bottled teas and some sports drinks.
So what’s the problem? If phosphorus is good for us, more must be better, right? Well, in fact there appears to be a definite correlation between increased phosphorus intake and decreased bone density. A study done on 147 healthy, premenopausal women ages 31-43 showed that high dietary intakes of phosphorus (both natural and added) lowered serum iodized calcium levels, even when calcium intake was adequate. The study concludes, amongst other things, that the altered calcium balance in high phosphorus diets could contribute to bone loss in the general public.
We, as health-conscious individuals and consumers, need to read our labels and make healthy choices regarding EVERYTHING we eat and drink. I would like to thank and credit American Fitness Magazine and Cindy Berner, RD, LD for the thought provoking article “Bone Health and Phosphorus Additives”. I am not suggesting we drink less cow’s milk or delete calcium supplementation from our daily diet. This is a choice I have made, but it might not be the smartest choice, or one that works for you. What I AM suggesting is that we need to keep our food intake clean and as natural as possible. If there are too many ingredients in a food, it’s probably best left uneaten. Sometimes I think it’s not what we aren’t eating that’s making us unhealthy, it’s what we ARE eating! Maybe those wacky calorie restrictors are on to something…
Wishing you peace, fitness and above all else, good HEALTH!