Osteoporosis is a clinical name given for bone mineral losses (called 'bone re-sorption'). For a person technically to qualify for this label, it means he has lost 50% to 75% of the original bone materials from his skeleton. The loss of calcium and other minerals from the bones is a gradual process which takes a long time before it becomes evident. And it is usually not apparent until loose teeth, receding gums, or a fractured hip show how brittle and chalky the bones have become. As a result, the calcium-deficient bones may break with the slightest provocation, even a mere sneeze may crack a rib.
The reason why the decreasing bone density is hard to be detected is that even in extremes cases of osteoporosis, the calcium level of the blood is usually normal. In the body's ranking of needs, the blood level of calcium takes definite priority over the bone level of calcium. The body needs calcium in the blood for vital operations, such as controlling muscular contractions, blood clotting, transmission of nerve impulses, and other utterly essential tasks. When the body needs to supply calcium to the blood for any reason, it acts as if the bones were a "bank" of stored calcium, and through a series of biochemical reactions, calcium is withdrawn from the calcium bank to be supplied to the blood.
People believe that bones lost calcium only if there were not enough calcium in their diets. For this point of view, and the solution they propose, is to drink higher protein dairy products. However, the modern nutritional research indicates a major flaw in this perspective. In fact, osteoporosis is a disease caused by a number of things, the most important of which is excess dietary protein!
The incidence of osteoporosis correlates directly with protein intake, ie the more excess protein in the diet the greater the incidence of negative calcium balance, and the greater the loss of calcium from the bone. In other words, the more protein in our diet, the more calcium we lose. Therefore, high protein diets in general, and meat based diets in particular, lead to a gradual decrease in bone density, and produce the ongoing development of osteoporosis.
Many studies carried out during the past decades show that the most important dietary change that we can make in order to create a positive calcium balance that will keep our bones solid is not to increase the amount of calcium in our daily diets, but to decrease the amount of protein we take in.