“Calcium does not increase bone density”

According to the NY Times:

Calcium, eaten in foods or taken as supplements, has little or no effect on bone density or the risk of fracture in people over 50, according to two large reviews of studies in BMJ.

Presumably that’s the British Medical Journal. Before dismissing the finding as just another of these reversals of beliefs so ingrained as to seem like common sense, do know that the studies together had over 50,000 participants. And the BMJ is very highly regarded.

I can’t decide quite why I’m feeling a bit irritated. Maybe one or many of these:

– The chances of a reversal of this showing up within a year, given how these hot health news stories get worked out.
– The sanctimonious manner in which one can be asked by anyone taking health data, “And calcium supplements”?
– The number of times I’ve checked on the calcium content of foods.
– The times I’ve bought prime cost yoghurt because of its high calcium content.

8 thoughts on ““Calcium does not increase bone density”

  1. Could those results just be because calcium absorption depends on vitamin D, so that there’s no point in taking in extra calcium if you don’t have enough vitamin D to metabolize it?

  2. Currently, thak you, though let me stress here is that my root concern is with the promulgation of false views.

    Maxhgns, I gather from the original article that it did cover trial of calcium taken with vitamin D.

  3. annejjacobson: Ah. The link to the article wasn’t showing up for me when I posted.

    On that note, I just clicked on the link and found it took me to a brie NYT article on padded hip protectors and how they don’t do much to prevent fractures from falls. I assume it was another article, and not because the padded hip protectors are made of calcium!

  4. [not meant as an endorsement of Woody Allen generally, but…] After reading Gary Taubes on Fat, I’m increasingly convinced this scene in _Sleeper_ was startingly prescient:

  5. Also worthy of consideration is the fact that dairy products are widely heralded as the holy grail of calcium sources. As other sources of calcium are given short shrift, significant ethical issues surrounding dairy are ignored. For generations, schoolchildren have been taught that calves’ milk and other dairy products constitute an essential food group. This indoctrination ignores the high prevalence of lactose intolerance among most of the adult human population, including most people with First Nations, Asian, African, and Jewish ancestry.

    It is 2015. As feminist philosophers, we are (or ought to be) aware of the need to approach nutrition in a comprehensive way. To make wise decisions about how to nourish ourselves and our dependents, we need to pay attention not only to human health and related studies, but also to animal ethics, the environment, the distribution of limited resources, the accessibility of affordable and nutritious food, workers’ rights, and much else besides. Those who deserve thanks for helping to establish the need for a comprehensive approach to nutrition include Donald Watson, Jay Dinshah, Ruth Harrison, Rachel Carson, Frances Moore Lappé, Joanne Stepaniak, Vandana Shiva, Carol J. Adams, and many others.

    Not surprisingly, the growing awareness of our need to approach nutrition comprehensively is met with resistance from improperly selfish vested interests. A related struggle can be seen in the recent (and recently rejected) attempt by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to include sustainability concerns in the forthcoming Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/06/446369955/new-dietary-guidelines-will-not-include-sustainability-goal)

    Sadly, resistance also comes from feminist philosophers. Still, for instance, after decades of protest in feminist journals and at feminist events, it is common for feminist gatherings to serve animal products, the vast majority of which are tied to extreme cruelty. Even when we should most be at home – in the company of our fellow feminists – there is pressure to pretend that we do not know painful truths that we have a moral obligation to know. All too often, when someone speaks out in protest – as I have done on various occasions – she is met with knee-jerk excuses, silence, a few nods and platitudes, a cold shoulder, and a return to business as usual. For how many more years will feminists continue to brush off well-backed pleas for necessary and already overdue change?

    Like me, several of my fellow animal advocates are distraught over the ongoing failure of so many of our fellow progressives to take our legitimate concerns and calls for change seriously. Please, for so many reasons, if you haven’t already, WAKE UP. Pushing the snooze button again and again is an increasingly culpable act. As Immanuel Jenkins says, “Dogmatic slumber is one thing; dogmatic snoring, another.”

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