By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

One smelly mess

Acidic Blood: Heart & Bone Disease

Food proteins are broken down by the human body into their
building blocks, amino acids. The amino acids are then used
to build new proteins. Proteins consist of 28 amino acids.
We manufacture 19 amino acids in our livers. Nine essential
amino acids must be obtained from the foods we eat. Many
people believe that animal and plant proteins are exactly
the same. That is not true.

One of those "essential" amino acids is methionine.

One needs methionine for many human metabolic functions
including digestion, detoxification of heavy metals, and
muscle metabolism. However, an excess of methionine can be
toxic and create that acid condition in your blood.

The center atom of methionine is sulfur. That's the problem.
Eat foods containing too much methionine, and your blood
will become acidic. The sulfur converts to sulfates and weak
forms of sulfuric acid. In order to neutralize the acid, in
its wisdom, the body leaches calcium from bones.

"Dietary protein increases production of acid in the blood
which can be neutralized by calcium mobilized from the
skeleton." {American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995;

Animal proteins contain more methionine than plant proteins.
Let's compare cow's milk to soymilk:

Methionine in 100 grams of soymilk: .040 grams
Methionine in 100 grams of whole milk: .083 grams
Methionine in 100 grams of skim milk: .099 grams

Now, let's compare 100 gram portions of tofu to meat:
(All of the meat products are lean and without skin)

Silken soft tofu: .074 grams of methionine
Hamburger: .282 grams of methionine
Hard boiled egg: .392 grams of methionine
Roast ham: .535 grams of methionine
Baked codfish: .679 grams of methionine
Swiss cheese .784 grams of methionine
Roast chicken: .801 grams of methionine

Why do nations with the highest rates of bone disease also
have the highest milk consumption rates? The highest rates
of osteoporosis are to be found in Denmark, Holland, Norway,
and Sweden.

We are told to consume 1000 milligrams per day of calcium.
Inuit Eskimos consume 3500 milligrams of calcium each day,
and by age 40 are crippled.


It's not how much calcium you eat. It's how much calcium you
prevent from leaving your bones.


In 1988, N.A. Breslau and colleagues identified the
relationship between protein-rich diets and calcium
metabolism, noting that protein caused calcium loss. His
work was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology

A 1994 study published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition (Remer T, Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:1356-61) found
that animal proteins cause calcium to be leached from the
bones and excreted in the urine.


"Osteoporosis is caused by a number of things, one of the
most important being too much dietary protein." {Science
1986;233, 4763}

"Even when eating 1,400 mg of calcium daily, one can lose up
to 4% of his or her bone mass each year while consuming a
high-protein diet." {American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

"Increasing one's protein intake by 100% may cause calcium
loss to double." {Journal of Nutrition, 1981; 111, 3}

"The average man in the US eats 175% more protein than the
recommended daily allowance and the average woman eats 144%
more." {Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health,

"Consumption of dairy products, particularly at age 20
years, were associated with an increased risk of hip
fractures... metabolism of dietary protein causes increased
urinary excretion of calcium." {American Journal of
Epidemiology 1994;139}

Can it get worse? Absolutely.

The Framingham Heart Study is the largest and most exciting
heart study in the history of mankind. Some of the
highlights of this exhaustive 50 year study:

In 1960, Cigarette smoking was found to increase the risk of
heart disease.

In 1970, high blood pressure was found to increase the risk
of stroke.

During the 1980's, high levels of HDL cholesterol were found
to reduce risk of death from heart disease.

In the 1990's, homocysteines were identified as key factors
in heart attack deaths.

Homocysteines are normal breakdown products of METHIONINE
and are believed to exert a number of toxic effects in the
body. I recently spoke with the senior investigator of the
Framingham heart study, William Castelli, M.D. (E-mail: Dr. Castelli has suggested that
an elevated homocysteine level is a risk factor for heart
disease. The first evidence of this was published in the
American Journal of Cardiology (Glueck, 1995;75:132­6).

Two recent publications resulting from Framingham data
indicate a positive correlation between cardiovascular
disease mortality and blood serum levels of homocysteine.

Bostom AG, et. al, Nonfasting plasma total homocysteine
levels and all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in
elderly Framingham men and women. Arch Intern Med 1999;

Bostom A.G., et. al, Nonfasting plasma total homocysteine
levels and stroke incidence in elderly persons: the
Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med 131[5], 352-355, 1999.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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