Perplexity about Calcium and Osteoporosis

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Our bones are constructed from two primary materials: proteins, which form a kind of scaffolding, and calcium phosphate, which acts as a hard, mineralized, strengthening filler. Bone tissue is constantly being deconstructed and rebuilt throughout our adult lives, so healthy bones require adequate protein and calcium supplies from our diet. Many women in industrialized countries lose so much bone mass after menopause that they’re at high risk for serious fractures. Dietary calcium clearly helps prevent this potentially dangerous loss, or osteoporosis. Milk and dairy products are the major source of calcium in dairying countries, and U.S. government panels have recommended that adults consume the equivalent of a quart (liter) of milk daily to prevent osteoporosis.