Monday, July 13, 2009

Do vegetable-protein diets enhance calcium retention?

Dear Monique; Do vegetable-protein diets enhance calcium retention in the body and result in less excretion of calcium in the urine than meat-based proteins? I thought an amino acid was an amino acid, no matter where it originated. Thanks, Edna Lee

Answer: All proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids that combine to form different proteins, and 8 of these must come from the foods we eat. Our body uses these amino acids to create muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails and internal organs. Proteins help replace and form new tissue, transports oxygen and nutrients in our blood and cells, regulates the balance of water and acids, and is needed to make antibodies. However, too much of a good thing may not be so good for you. Many people are putting their health at risk by eating to much protein. Excessive protein consumption, particularly animal protein, can result in heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and kidney stones.

The amount and type of protein in the diet both have an important impact on calcium absorption and excretion.

Even if a person takes in enough calcium, more calcium might be lost when eating high amounts of animal-protein. Researchers believe that the sulfur amino acids, cysteine and methionine, increase acid loads, which leads to increased calcium loss in an animal-protein diet.

Eating plant-based proteins like that found in beans and soy foods add calcium, magnesium and isoflavones to the diet which the body can more readily absorb. Additionally, because plant-based proteins have a lower amount of sulfur amino acids, they do not result in the same diuretic response that animal-proteins do. Vegetable-proteins not only enhance calcium retention in the body, they also cause less excretion of calcium in the urine. This reduces the risk of osteoporosis and kidney problems.

Read more about vegetable-protein and vegetarian diets at

Read more about calcium at

For recipes and more information about a healthy vegetarian and vegan diet, read my book
Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook
Other Recommended Books...

Plant Based Nutrition and Health
by Stephen Walsh

The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet
by Vesanto Melina & Brenda Davis

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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.

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