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London church revealed that today’s women lose far more calcium than our ancestors (Lees et al., 1993). This may be attributed to a lower degree of physical activity. This research supports an increasing amount of evidence that physical activity is a key factor in reducing osteoporosis risk. To promote bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis it is


important to avoid acid-producing animal products, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, get enough vitamin D, reduce caffeine and alcohol intake and not smoke. Many studies suggest exercise is the most important determining factor. The best type of activity for bone health is weight bearing exercise; this includes walking, stair climbing and dancing.


Summary • Children and young adults do not need dairy foods for good bone health; they do need exercise and a healthy plant-based diet to ensure strong bones.


• Diets loaded with dairy products are associated with an increased risk of many diseases including osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.


References


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Viva! Health – Feeding you the Facts


This is one in a series of Viva! Health factsheets. For details contact: Viva! Health, 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH. Tel: 0117 944 1000. Email: info@viva.org.uk Web: www.viva.org.uk/health


• From a health perspective, dairy foods should be avoided in the diet. • Most people in the world naturally cannot digest the sugar in milk - lactose - as after weaning, they are lactose intolerant. Therefore, the vast majority of people obtain calcium from plant-based sources.


• Many children are affected by cows’ milk allergies. • Cows’ and goats’ milk, meat, fish and eggs contain proteins which acidify our blood. Therefore, calcium is leached from our bones to neutralise the acid.


• Looking solely at calcium intake and not at calcium losses tells only half the story; while a vegan’s intake might be less than a meat eater’s, their losses are likely to be much lower. A plant- based diet free of animal products - a vegan diet - does not produce these losses.


• There are no scientific reports of calcium deficiency in adult vegans. • Vitamins A, B group, C, D, K, magnesium and potassium are all required for good bone health.


• Plant-based sources of calcium are many and varied and offer many other health benefits as well as providing a natural and safe source of calcium.


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