T Nation

Acid/Base Around the World


I've been reading some of the Acid/Base articles - intersting stuff. And here's my questions:

  1. Will sodium bicarbonate increase my sodium levels, i.e. is it the same as taking sodium?
  2. Wouldn't societies that relied heavily on grains be at risk of osteoporosis if this theory were correct. Yet, from what I've read, osteoporosis is a Western diet thing only. So does that mean that other cultures with a high grain intake only avoid it through high vege/fruit intake on top of it?


Actually, osteoperosis is very common in people of Asian enthicity. Whether this is because of their high grain diet or genetic factors, I can't say.

If you find a population that consumes primarily grains and has a high incidence of osteoperosis, be wary of blaming it only on the grains right away. These populations are usually starving and/or protein deficient, which can also lead to osteoperosis. Most likely, it's all of these factors combined that lead to the disease.


ya, as the last poster said correlation != causation. Be careful when extrapolating results.


Really!?! What I have read is misleading. What the author was attacking was our societies' belief that consuming massive amounts of Calcium would solve our osteoporosis problem.


The author's right in that calcium isn't the only requirement for strong bones.

The chief materials that give bones their structure are collagen and calcium phosphate. Therefore, we need protein, calcium, and phosphorus in the the diet to provide the bare essentials of bone tissue.

We also need vitamin D, which acts as a hormone to promote calcium absorption, vitamin A for bone remodeling, and vitamin C for collagen synthesis and the formation of mature bone cells (osteocytes). To a lesser extent, we also need vitamin K and B12 for collagen synthesis and magnesium and potassium for the maintenence of bone density.

There's currently some question if high-salt diets contribute to osteoperosis, too, since sodium causes calcium excretion if consumed in high amounts. Potassium seems to counteract this.

Bone formation is also regulated by hormones, specifically estrogen and testosterone in adulthood. Children use thyroid hormones and insulinlike growth factors. Then when they reach puberty the sex hormones kick in, and they get a growth spurt. You can see the importance of sex hormones for bones in post-menopausal women and females with amenhorrea who both lose bone tissue at rapid rates.

Increased calcium consumption is touted by health professional more than the other nutrients because calcium is typically lacking, whereas protein and phosporous are not as problematic. Vitamin C is also considered a "problem nutrient" like calcium (That's why both must be listed on food labels), but my guess as to why it's not encouraged as much as calcium is because it is needed in lesser amounts. They're all still important, however.


Oh, and another point about consuming massive amounts of calcium:

Don't quote me on this, but I believe we are only capable of absorbing so much calcium at a time - 300-500mg I think. I'm going to look into this further.


Something else:

Sugar and alchohol induce magnesium excretion. Therefore, osteoporosis in the West might be partly the result of high sugar and alchohol comsumption, as well.


Okay, I did some brief research and found that calcium absorption is best if taken in doses of 500mg or less. Whether or not that means we can't absorb more, I'm not sure, but since calcium needs to be dissolved in the stomach before it reaches the intestines, I guess that the stomach wouldn't have enough time to completely dissolve high doses before emptying.


Wow! You're a walking encyclopedia! I appreciate all the info.

What interested me about what you said above is that it does not explain why Western societies (in general) have much worse osteoporosis than the great majority of other cultures (or so I have read). I think the average Joanna Doe gets sufficient Ca, protein, Vit C, etc. Somehow the American diet accelerates this process and the acidosis theory seems pretty reasonable. Or, based on what you said, it could be hormonal. Perhaps our diets tweak our hormones in a negative way?


Interesting! I hadn't heard about this. Here's a link that talks about what you're saying if anyone is interested:


Do you have any idea why sugars pull magnesium? Is it used to metabolize them somehow?

Thx for the info.


I think osteoporosis in the West is the result of many factors. Calcium consumption for the majority of women is lower than what it should be, and other vitamin and mineral deficiencies may contribute, as well.

Perhaps, it's because of lack of exercise.

It may even be as simple as teenage girls trying to be thin; bone mass peaks in adolescence, and if girls are restricting food intake, they can compromise bone health for the rest of their lives. If they lose their periods, that exacerbates the problem even further.

Smoking, like alchohol, also reduces bone density.

There's also genetic factors, too. African Americans seem to use calcium more efficienty than Caucasians. In focusing on Western countries of both Europe and North America, Caucasians are the majority and include some enthicities that have even lower average bone densities, such as Mexican-Americans and Hispanics of Central and South America. Asians have lower bone density too, one theory being that they are generally smaller in overall size.

Therefore, it's hard to pinpoint exactly why a group of people may develop osteoporisis more than others. The reason could be diet, heredity, lifestyle, or all of the above in varying combinations.


Yeah, magnesium is a major mineral when in comes to nutrient metabolism. It's part of many many enzymes. It plays a big part in protein, fat, and amino acid metabolism and for the body's ability to use glucose. So, I suppose if glucose consumption is high, the body uses more magnesium than usual. This my be one of the ways that blood acidity damages bones.

...but then this would seemingly occur for amino acids and fatty acids in the blood, too, which reminds me of my unanswered question about protein and associated calcium loss in response to blood acidity. I fear that is opening up a can of worms, though, so for the sake of this thread, I won't try to elicit an answer, but it's something to think about.