We have all heard of the French Paradox – How do french women stay so impossibly slim on a diet based on wine, cheese and butter? Have you heard about the Asian paradox? Given the connection between dairy products, calcium intake, bone density and hip fractures, how is it that Asians, who have low dairy and low calcium diets, have such a low risk of hip fracture (Anderson & Sjöberg, 2001).
In a population, hip fractures are easier to measure than bone density consequently there is more data on it. You need to fall (or have impact) and have low bone density to fracture your hip. Factors like exercise (and presumably alcohol consumption) affect how much falling goes on. The serious news: Hip fractures are to be avoided if you are over 65 as it significantly increases your chance of dying in the following year (Walsh, 2011).
Bones do need calcium, along with phosphorus (eggs are a good source) and Vitamin D (Oily fish)(Harvard Medical School, 20013). Dairy products supply up to ¾ of our dietary calcium. For women in my age group it is virtually impossible to get the recommended daily allowance (now known as the DRI) of 1000 - 1300 mg (depends on who you ask) without dairy - 1 cup milk has 400mg, of yoghurt 300mg while 1 cup of broccoli has 60mg, 10 almonds, 30mg (NZ Nutrition Foundation, 2014). Could Asians be getting away with a calcium intake way below the DRI because it’s not the only thing going on (Harvard Medical School, 20013).
There is definitely something questionable about the recommendations which soar for older women (NZ Nutrition Foundation, 2014). Bone density does decrease with age and there is a link between intakes <400mg per day and fractures (Warensjö et al., 2011). However it looks doubtful that higher (1000- 1300mg) calcium intake is the right approach. In fact exercise seems to be the strongest influence on reducing hip fracture (Kannus, 1999).
While it is indisputable that the Kneebone’s connected to the thigh bone and the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone, the hip bone’s connection to our leading national industry does cry out (like a bobby calf, separated from its mother) for more research.
In my next blog: How, according to Fonterra, milk can make you more muscular and attractive to the opposite sex (when taken in conjunction with an active lifestyle).
Anderson, J. J. B., & Sjöberg, H. E. (2001). Dietary calcium and bone health in the elderly: uncertainties about recommendations. Nutritional Research, 21(1-2), 263-268.
Harvard Medical School. (20013). What you need to know about Calcium. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what_you_need_to_know_about_calcium
Kannus, P. (1999). Preventing osteoporosis, falls, and fractures among elderly people. The British Medical Journal, 318(7178), 205-2016.
NZ Nutrition Foundation. (2014). Calcium. Retrieved from http://www.nutritionfoundation.org.nz/nutrition-facts/minerals/calcium
Walsh, N. (2011). Mortality High in Year After Hip Fracture. Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/Orthopedics/Orthopedics/28742
Warensjö, E., Byberg, L., Melhus, H., Gedeborg, R., Mallmin, H., Wolk, A., & Michaëlsson, K. (2011). Dietary calcium intake and risk of fracture and osteoporosis: prospective longitudinal cohort study. Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1473.abstract