Hinds will often eat the shed antlers of the buck. In Mr. Macpherson's book on Red Deer, he says: "The immense quantities of bone deer will eat is proved by Mr. Williamson's statement to Mr. Harvie-Brown, that in a few months they had completely eaten the bones of a horse in the Hebrides, and Mr. Harvie-Brown remarks that this great appetite displayed may be accounted for by the total absence of bone-producing elements in the geology of the Hebrides."
Hinds, when gravid and while suckling their young, require considerable lime, and where the soil is deficient in this element so that it is lacking in their regular diet, they turn to bones. In certain parts of the British Isles the hinds will eat the horns off the heads of living stags, so lacking in lime is the soil. P. Y. Alexander, M.A., L.L.D., quotes one Whitaker as saying "both bucks and does will pick and chew shed horns. I have seen them also chewing old rib-bones of beef."
A sufficient restriction of calcium in the diet of gravid rats renders delivery so difficult and painful that they die in trying to give birth.
Dr. Melville C. Keith, who was much ahead of his time in his dietary views, has left us this observation, Seven Studies, 1900; "Caries, or rotting of the teeth from insufficient material, is more familiarly seen, and more universally experienced, in the woman who bears children and is fed with scanty tooth material while the child is growing within her. The skeleton of the child demands bone and it is not in sufficient quantity in the blood of the mother. And, the mother's body being unable to respond to the demand for the bone material, her own bony system is drawn upon, and hence the disintegration of the teeth to supply the child with the needful bone material. So, also, are her bones absorbed for the same reason.
"The direct cause and effect are to be seen in the shell of an egg. Take a hen and deprive her of all material containing lime, and the egg will be so very soft shelled as to mash up when it is laid. Not having shell material enough, the egg shell is deficient and the hen, if not supplied, will die after laying a few months.
"When the shell is very soft, give the hen powdered oyster shells, or lime, or old bones, in a shape for the hen to swallow, and the eggs will soon have a tough, thick shell.
"So with cattle. I have seen cows on the Prairie of St. Landry, Lousiana, devote a couple of hours to chewing up a bone while they were carrying a calf. The proper thing in these cases is to supply these animals with bone producing material."
This should show us how urgently necessary it is to supply the pregnant mother with adequate calcium in her diet. As phosphorus is as essential as calcium to the bones and the latter is usable in proportion to the amount of the former that is present, it is equally essential that the mother's diet contain ample phosphorus. Women who crave something sour during pregnancy and who insist on satisfying this craving with pickles, vinegar, etc., rob their bodies of calcium instead of supplying this needed element. Those who satisfy their craving for sweets by eating candy, sugar, cakes and such, instead of eating dates, figs, raisins, bananas, etc., are thereby assisting in the calcium depletion of their bodies. White sugar is especially a calcium-thief.
The use of lime water will not help either the mother or the fetus in such cases. Indeed, the use of inorganic lime-salts, with the exception of calcium carbonate and tri-calcium phosphate, produces "acidosis." Large doses of calcium chloride induce severe losses of calcium from the body and may even result in osteoporosis or osteomalacia. Chloride of lime, if given for a long time, results in severe losses of calcium, even in bone deformity. Calcium chloride induces hyperacidity within the body and the alkalies of the bones and other tissues are used in neutralizing the acids. There is only one source from which to secure your calcium--namely, natural foods.
It is now the vogue to feed pregnant and nursing mothers milk to supply them with lime for their babies. Year after year, this milk is narrowed down, more and more, to pasteurized milk, which supplies practically no calcium. Dr. Claunch gave it as his view that if a pregnant woman takes a glass of milk a day during her pregnancy, she will have a large baby, one too fat for an easy birth. Besides producing an over-sized baby, milk is by no means the richest source of calcium.
Physicians also prescribe calcium tablets for mothers in order that they may secure sufficient calcium with which to build the bones and teeth of their babies. This calcium is in the form of an inorganic salt and is not only not useful, but is positively injurious.
The need for calcium by the pregnant mother is greatlv exaggerated. The amount of calcification, both of the bones and teeth, of the baby before birth is not great. Calcification has hardly begun in the teeth at the time of birth and the bones are still soft at this time.
Most fruits are considerably lower in calcium than is milk. The same is true of nuts. Yet if a mother received no more calcium than she derives from a diet of fruits and nuts she will secure all the calcium she and her baby require. There are several vegetables that contain twice as much calcium as milk. Some of them run nearly three times as much calcium as milk. All of the following vegetables are much richer in calcium than milk: Cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, celery, dandelion, dill, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, romaine lettuce, okra, both large and small radishes, sorrel, sugarbeet leaves, swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips, turnip leaves, water cress. A number of other vegetables contain as much or nearly as much lime as milk. All of them contain sufficient to meet the needs of the mother and baby.