or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › Nutrition and Good Eating › Traditional Foods › meat protein causes calcium leaching... fact or fiction?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

meat protein causes calcium leaching... fact or fiction?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was interviewed this morning by a fellow mama who write a very good newsletter for parents in our area - she was intrigued by my vehemently local approach to foods and of course nutritional stuff came up. She is veg/vegan and at one point she said that meat proteins leach calcium from our bodies. I said I didn't exactly agree with that, but it seemed we agreed that pasteurized factory-farmed cows milk isn't good for anybody and we moved on But I'd never heard that before, so off I went to research and it seems that a) there are studies that appear to debunk this but they have been done on post-menopausal women and men of similar age; and b) the rationale that seems to be employed to justify the notion is the "pH" of blood, with eating meat causing "acidified" blood which leaches calcium by chemical means. I generally think that the whole blood pH stuff is a load of hooey, but is there any other reason to think that there may be something to the notion of meat eating being problematic for calcium retention?
post #2 of 14
I've heard it before. That milk actually takes more calcium OUT of our bodies than it puts in. I have NO idea if it's true or not....I'm fairly sure it was something PETA talked about.
post #3 of 14
I've wondered if this is possible, and if this is why Price found that the groups he studied consumed about 4x the minerals found in typical diets, so there may be some extra losses, but in order to get fat-soluble vitamins in anywhere near the amounts that he found, you need to consume animal products of one sort or another. It sort of works backwards from the fat-soluble vitamins we need. But I think we'd find that sugar and white flour leach minerals at a high rate but with no redeeming features whatsoever.
post #4 of 14
My understanding is that a high-protein diet in general tends to leach calcium from the diet and that a high-protein diet is unlikely for vegetarians so that is why meat is being named as the culprit. I have not saved my references for this over the years, however, sorry.


Spughy, may I ask why you believe that the body pH concept is nonsensical?
post #5 of 14
Milk was actually blocking my absorption of calcium in MY body and my naturopath found that I'm sensitive to milk. Once I stopped drinking milk, my nails are growing fine! I can eat yogurt and kefir though.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
I think the body pH theory is fairly bogus because there is such a narrow band at which your blood pH can range and you can still remain alive, and the difference in effects on any individual element (such as microorganisms, bone calcium extraction, etc.) of a pH of 7.30 vs 7.40 are so small as to be nonexistant.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Ok I did some more reading and it appears that the reason blood pH is named as a rationale for protein causing calcium leaching is that excess protein should raise blood pH because excess amino acids are converted to organic acids, and calcium is removed from bones to neutralize these and thus MAINTAIN the very narrow acceptable pH. This does make some sense, however there doesn't seem to be clinical evidence that this actually happens - the studies I've looked at seem to show that replacing carbohydrate calories in the diet with protein calories (plant or animal) has no effect on calcium in the urine (which is where it would end up if this were happening.) So I'm wondering if the studies were flawed - maybe the participants were not actually given *too much* protein, and the amounts were such that their bodies could use it - OR protein metabolism is incompletely understood?

I think Tanya might be on to something too with the notion that traditional diets, especially hunter-gatherer, would have been much higher in calcium. Wild greens, like nettles, have far more calcium than domestic vegetables, and traditional diets frequently contained a lot of actual bone material, through broths, marrow and fish bones.
post #8 of 14
I never heard of anyone checking the acidity of the blood itself. Saliva and urine though, yes. And you can tell this way just how alkaline or acidic your body is. I've read studies on pH and cancer and there is an apparent link between the two. Of course, cancer may be linked to many things that were overlooked in these studies. But yes, the body prefers to be slightly alkaline and will take calcium from our stores--the bones--to get back to this point. If you're supplementing with calcium, as I find the vast majority of people do, then you may not even realize your body is dealing with this issue on a daily basis and testing your pH may prove nothing.

This is not a meat eater vs vegan issue by any stretch. The issue is simply the amount of protein. Even vegans can get too much and any smart vegan will realize this. The WHO has been repeatedly studying the amount of protein needed vs the RDA and found that what's recommended is about double what we truly need. But RDAs tend to be like this. They either recommend the bare minimum because it keeps known symptoms away or they recommend too much 'just in case.' You have to take them all with a grain of salt. The WHO also did studies on calcium in the countries where protein consumption was less extreme and found only about 1/10th the RDA is really necessary. These countries had little or no rheumatoid arthritis and other bone issues.

I'm sure back in the hunter/gatherer days people didn't always get to eat when they felt hungry. It's hard to compare life now with life then. The quantity and quality of food are different. We can't say anything with certainty. And the problem with studies, even those done by the WHO, is we just don't ever know enough. We can easily say x+y=z, but what if there was the underlying issue of t or k? We don't know.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by spughy View Post
I think the body pH theory is fairly bogus because there is such a narrow band at which your blood pH can range and you can still remain alive, and the difference in effects on any individual element (such as microorganisms, bone calcium extraction, etc.) of a pH of 7.30 vs 7.40 are so small as to be nonexistant.

blood pH normally lie betweeen 7.35-7.45

it is a delicate balance & blood pH on either end of that normal range can produce intense physical symptoms.

as an ICU nurse we often saw respiratory distress occurring to compensate a blood pH of 7.36.... kidney function can become insufficient if constantly working to correct an excessively acidic or alkaline blood pH.

there is a WORLD of difference between a blood gas of 7.36 & 7.41.especially considering that blood pH below 6.8 & above 7.8 are incompatible with life... but that is western medicine talking, so excuse this as rambling if i am bothering anyone
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by spughy View Post
I think the body pH theory is fairly bogus because there is such a narrow band at which your blood pH can range and you can still remain alive, and the difference in effects on any individual element (such as microorganisms, bone calcium extraction, etc.) of a pH of 7.30 vs 7.40 are so small as to be nonexistant.
The effect on proteins is very specific to pH because pH is an environmental factor (inside and outside of the cells). The way a cell knows to read a gene or not is by the receptor proteins in the cell membrane that will change lock and key style in response to what is going on in the body which comes as a signal to the cell from the brain via the nervous system and neurotransmitters dah dah dah.

The central dogma of medicine is that genes dictate life but if you read up on the actual cell biology of gene synthesis it becomes clear that it is actually the signal (nervous system) that gets the proteins moving in the cell membrane which gets proteins moving inside the cell to read the gene that needs to be read to manufacture the proteins that the gene codes for. Dr. Bruce Lipton, cell biologist and allopath basher, has a ton of material that explains this stuff in detail and it is completely fascinating.

But yeah, part of that environment that gets the whole process started is pH and it is a very delicate balance
post #11 of 14
I'm not knowledgable enough to give an answer here, but if you want some reading, get The China Study. It talks a lot about this.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by brandyshea View Post
I'm not knowledgable enough to give an answer here, but if you want some reading, get The China Study. It talks a lot about this.
I read the China Study and thought it was deeply flawed. Someone sent me the acid-alkaline diet, and I haven't started reading it quite yet.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanyaLopez View Post
I've wondered if this is possible, and if this is why Price found that the groups he studied consumed about 4x the minerals found in typical diets, so there may be some extra losses, but in order to get fat-soluble vitamins in anywhere near the amounts that he found, you need to consume animal products of one sort or another. It sort of works backwards from the fat-soluble vitamins we need. But I think we'd find that sugar and white flour leach minerals at a high rate but with no redeeming features whatsoever.
I too wonder if something like this plays a role. I'm also wondering if SAD type meat eating patterns are more the issue - eating isolated parts of the animal - versus more traditional ways of eating that would have also found a use for the bones aka bone broths. You can't rule out organ meats as a protective factor here either since so many of the essential osteoporosis protective nutrients are found here as well.

This one has me chuckling, but the Soybean board says on their website:

Quote:
Recent evidence has demonstrated that increased intake of common proteins does not necessarily affect bone health adversely. The composition of the protein source as well as co-existing factors in the total diet determines the renal acid load. In healthy individuals consuming high protein foods, in the context of typical mixed diets, the renal acid load does not seem to reach a “threshold” that affects calcium homeostasis.
Which would seem to underline the fact that this isn't a simple meat = calcium loss equation - although that makes for great headlines and would convince some easily swayed folks.

In addition to dietary factors I would say that you could add other lifestyle choices like a lack of real movement (not necessarily crazy aerobic exercise or anything like that) or a lack of exposure to the sun and I would suppose you may very well have an issue.

I'd like to see something like this discussed in something other than a veg*n website or "The China Study". Neither of which, imo, is all that convincing.
post #14 of 14
i think there is something about not eating meat at the same time as milk products having to do with the phosphorus and calcium counteracting one another. i also know that in order to absorb calcium one usually wants to combine it with something-- is it acidic?-- like lemon or tomato for example. or citrus. anyhow, i totally just skimmed this thread b/c i'm soooo tired so if this is completely unhelpful just disregard!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Traditional Foods
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › Nutrition and Good Eating › Traditional Foods › meat protein causes calcium leaching... fact or fiction?