Food that is harmful for your bones

Calcium is a fussy mineral and does not get absorbed easily. It needs the ‘right environment’ to get absorbed. Only about 20 to 30% of the ingested calcium is absorbed. In women after menopause the absorption even falls down to as low as 7% of the total ingested calcium. Most of the unabsorbed calcium gets excreted in the urine, some in the stools & the rest in the sweat. For better absorption calcium must be accompanied by magnesium & phosphorous, vitamin A, C & vitamin D. Some foods prevent calcium from being effectively absorbed and eventually promote bone loss.

Calcium depleters 

  1. Soft drinks: Phosphorous and Magnesium are needed for calcium absorption; but if they are taken in excess, then calcium is sucked out of the body & cannot be absorbed effectively. The typical teenage diet (soft drinks, burgers, chocolates, chips) contains too little calcium and too much phosphorous & this may result in weaker bones. Soft drinks apart from being rich in sugar and caffeine also contain phosphoric acid as a preservative, which is implicated in bone loss. The reason is that calcium maintains a delicate balance with phosphorous (ratio should be 2:1). When phosphorous levels increase as in soft drinks, excessive animal food calcium will be excreted.
  2. Animal protein: Excessive intake of animal protein causes urinary loss of calcium. Therefore if you are a non-vegetarian, try to reduce your non-vegetarian consumption to 2-3 times a week only.
  3. Caffeine in tea, cocoa, chocolates and coffee increases calcium excretion. About one or two cups of coffee a day appear to be safe, beyond that you may get calcium rich urine!
  4. Smoking & chewing tobacco also rob the body of its calcium stores as nicotine affects absorption of calcium.
  5. Excess salt & sugar intake boosts calcium excretion.
  6. Drugs: Overuse of antacids, corticosteroids, anticoagulant (medicines for thinning blood), medications for thyroid disorders also decrease calcium absorption. Ofcourse, if you have a medical condition that requires you to take them, go ahead and do so, but remember to supplement with calcium to avoid bone loss.
  7. A person with a small frame & less muscle mass also tends to store less calcium.
  8. A sedentary lifestyle robs your body of its calcium stores. When you begin any physical activity like walking, running, jogging it helps you to prevent bone loss.

Given below is an easy to make calcium rich recipe. It makes two servicing and provides approximately 400gms of calcium per servicing which is half of your daily requirement. For those who don’t drink milk or dairy products this recipe may proof to be helpful.

Green Bhaji

Make 2 servings


2 ½ Cups Spinach Chopped

¾ Cups Methi Leaves Chopped

½ Cup Chana Dal

½ Cup Paneer

2 Onions Chopped

2 Tomatoes Chopped

1 Teaspoon Garlic paste

2 Green Chillies

½ Teaspoon Red chilli powder (optional)

½ Teaspoon Haldi

2 Tablespoon Oil

Salt to Taste


Lightly fry the onions until light brown. Add garlic paste & green chillies. Now add the soaked chana dal & tomatoes until soft. Now add the spinach & methi leaves, salt, haldi & a pinch of red chilli powder and some water & pressure cook for 10 minutes.

Now mix the green bhaji together until it looks like a healthy blend. Serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped paneer.

The best way to prevent calcium deficiency related problems is to start increasing the disposition of calcium in the bones early in life by getting enough of it in your food, and also as supplements & by exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes for 6 days in a week.

(As published in Hindustan Times dated October 07, 2019)

ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centres in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Nashik, Indore.
Health Total treats obesity & other health related disorders.
Contact numbers: 1-800-843-0206 / 022-672 66888
For further information, visit www.health-total.com

October 7, 2019

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