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Orange Juice and Strong Bones: Why you can't have both

Makers of orange juice concentrate are playing a deceptive game with consumers, by adding calcium and then claiming the orange juice helps build strong bones. This article explains why those health claims are false. We'll begin by looking at orange juice itself.


Orange juice (like all fruit juice) is highly glycemic (but not as glycemic as grape juice).

When you drink any fruit juice, orange juice being one of your many choices, your insulin spikes up. This depresses testosterone. If you want to verify this, you can order this testosterone home sample collection testing kit (which uses a saliva sample and costs a fraction of the testosterone blood test at a clinic).

Your bones store calcium based on a testosterone signal. With the testosterone depressed by the insulin spike, your bones do not store calcium. If you do something that irritates your stomach, such as drink a carbonated beverage (or stop to think about how much you actually pay in taxes!), your bones release calcium.

When you drink any fruit juice, you are bypassing part of the natural digestive process and causing overly rapid entry of fruit sugar into your bloodstream. Your body's natural defense against this is to spike up the insulin. The effect may last for several hours. During that window, your bones aren't taking on any calcium because the signal to do that is absent.

Does this mean fruit juices are toxic? No. If you like fruit juice, you can still drink it safely if you:

  1. Drink it when your cells are depleted and need sugar. In the morning (presumably 10 hours with no food) or after a very hard workout. This reduces the amount of insulin needed to counteract the sugar.
  2. Drink only small amounts. This reduces the amount of insulin release, because there is less sugar to counteract.
  3. Eat a fat or protein with it, for example eggs at breakfast. This reduces the rate of insulin release, because fats and proteins "blunt the spike" of the sugar release into the bloodstream. Please note that juice and toast will give you a double whammy because the bread probably has high fructose corn syrup in it and is a grain anyhow. Oatmeal and juice, similar problem.

Don't take this "I can drink it safely" too far or make self-justifying assumptions. For example, running an a treadmill actually burns very few calories. So, chugging down OJ after a treadmill run (or a walk) is still going to cause that insulin response. Nature put orange juice in the perfect container: the orange. Taking it out of that container deprives you of the fiber while saddling you with a sugar rush you would not otherwise get.

If you like the taste of orange juice in the morning, have a whole orange instead. Your bones, pancreas, and intestines will be much happier.

Now, let's look at the calcium.


The calcium added to the juice is probably elemental calcium. To find out what is in your brand of OJ, read the label. Adding elemental calcium is as helpful as adding sawdust; your bones won't know any difference.

For your body to absorb calcium, it must be accompanied by the right quantities of potassium and magnesium. When you eat dark green leafy vegetables (e.g., kale, bok choy, collards, broccoli), these minerals are present in exactly the right proportions and along with them are the enzymes and other macronutrients you need.

The bioavailability of that calcium in those green veggies is at maximum. In the O.J., it's somewhere between low and zero.

If calcium for your bones is your concern:

  1. Avoid sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
  2. Avoid grains (flour products, corn, etc.).
  3. Avoid juices.
  4. Eat plenty of brassicas (e.g., kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli).
  5. Eat six small meals a day. This maximizes absorption while just about eliminating insulin swings.
  6. Do weight-bearing exercise. This is the only way to boost testosterone to the proper levels naturally. Walking and swimming do not qualify.

We also sell a calcium supplement. You might consider buying it, but don't feel obligated to. Here is the URL: It's $9, and if you buy two you save a buck. This is the one I personally take, or I wouldn't recommend it.


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