A vegetarian diet may also be of help in preventing osteoporosis for other reasons besides its beneficial effects on calcium metabolism. Though it is present in the largest amounts, calcium is only one of the minerals needed by the bones. Others, such as magnesium, silicon, fluorine, and manganese, are equally necessary for normal mineralization. Magnesium is needed in quantities that may be close to those of calcium. Others need be present in only tiny amounts.
Manganese is a case in point. Though only traces of it are necessary, rats that get in the diet less than the small amounts normally present develop porous bones similar to those seen in osteoporotic patients. When a research team examined blood and bone samples from 14 women with advanced osteoporosis and compared them with those of age-matched women without the disease, the only statistically significant differences between the two osteoporosis was only one fourth that in the other group. Other studies suggest that calcium supplements may inhibit manganese absorption, though milk as a source of calcium does not.
How to prevent osteoporosis:
1. Exercise regularly
2. Minimize animal foods-except diary products, which are very beneficial
3. Watch calcium/phosphorus ratios of frequently used foods; get
4. Maintain vitamin D intakes near 400 IU a day.
5. Be sure intake of other minerals-such as magnesium and the traces minerals-is adequate.
Transition to Vegetarianism Rudolphe Ballentine, M.D.