A study from the University of California, San Francisco shows that elderly women who eat lots of meat have much greater loss of hip bone density and more hip fractures than those who eat primarily vegetable protein.

Societies that eat large amounts of meat have a high incidence of osteoporosis. When you take in more protein than you need, your body cannot store extra protein, so it converts protein building blocks called amino acids into organic acids that acidify the bloodstream. The kidneys neutralize the acidity by pushing large amounts of calcium into the urine.

Whether it's animal protein or vegetable protein is probably not important; it's just very hard to get too much protein from vegetable sources because they are much less dense foods. You are far more likely to take in too much protein with a diet that includes a lot of meat and dairy products than with a primarily vegetarian diet.

Lack of calcium can cause osteoporosis, but this study shows that you may be able to prevent osteoporosis by eating large amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women. DE Sellmeyer, KL Stone, A Sebastian, SR Cummings. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2001, Vol 73, Iss 1, pp 118-122. Address: Sellmeyer DE, UCSF Prevent Sci Grp, 74 New Montgomery St, Suite 600, San Francisco,CA 94105 USA

Checked 9/3/05

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