Why osteoporosis might not be a calcium problem

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 28 March 2017

Did you know that the countries that consume the most dairy products also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis?

Countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have hip fracture rates of 165 per 100 000 people up to 190 per 100 000 people versus South Africa and New Guinea whose rates are 6.8 and 3.1 per 100 000 people respectively.

This fact is counterintuitive because we have been educated to believe that to keep our bones healthy we have to consume a lot of dairy products in order to obtain enough calcium. There is even an app for it!

So what is going on here?

Here are 5 reasons that osteoporosis might not be a calcium problem:

  1. Bones are not just made up of calcium. There are several other nutrients that support bone health. Vitamin D and zinc are just two.
  2. Bioavailability. Just because you consume it doesn't mean you are absorbing it. In fact, dairy products are one of the top 3 foods that contribute to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome significantly affects your ability to absorb the nutrients that you are consuming.
  3. Bones need a matrix to hold the mineral structure in place. Amino acids are the building blocks of that matrix. That means we need to eat and absorb good quality protein.
  4. Inflammation. If your body is inflamed due to insulin resistance or chronic high cortisol your body will be in a catabolic (breakdown state) versus and anabolic state (building state). The balance of bone breakdown will be higher than the amount of bone building and obviously not ideal for long term bone strength.
  5. Weight-bearing exercise. The strength of your bones is influenced by the amount of weight-bearing exercise that you do. As the old saying goes, use it or lose it.

Now I would love to hear from you! Have you ever thought about the role absorption plays in the health of your bones? Which one of these factors are you going to start investigating more to make sure you have healthy bones for years to come? Leave a comment below and I'll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesdays!

3 Replies to “Why osteoporosis might not be a calcium problem”

What do we need to help with infamation in our bodys i know that cronic inflamation is not good for us

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

Thanks for your question Craig. Here are 3 basic things that I start with when patients come to see me:
1. Eliminate sugar
2. Eliminate food intolerances and heal a leaky gut
3. Improve liver detoxification

Anna Matiowsky

Excellent information. It seems all we hear is calcium, calcium, calcium.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Do you like these posts? Sign up for Dr. Durkin's Apple a Day ....

Apple A Day is where you can find small, digestible, practical action steps to help you feel your best, one apple at a time.

Apple a Day

Quinte Naturopathic Centre

173 Church Street

Belleville, ON K8N 3C1



Hours of Operation:

Monday 10am - 7pm

Tuesday 9am - 6pm

Wednesday 9am - 6pm

Thursday 9am - 6pm

Friday 9am - 2pm


NOTE: Our building is not wheelchair accessible