One of the things I love about “nutrition” is that you can change and improve your diet to protect your health and actually see the benefits making a difference.
One of the many health topics women need to be aware of is bone health. I will admit, it is a topic that I’ve kind of ignored in the past, but because osteoporosis runs in my family, it is a topic that I can no longer be ignorant of. We often think of just getting enough calcium to prevent osteoporosis and while that is certainly part of the prevention plan, having a glass of milk won’t cut it on its own.
Osteoporosis literally means “porus bones” and it causes bones to become very fragile and brittle. Low bone density is also problematic and can lead to osteoporosis.
What can we do to protect ourselves against it?
“How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you attained in your 20s and early 30s (peak bone mass) and how rapidly you lose it later. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.” source
I have a few years left to build up my bone mass and then its all about the maintenance. This is one of the reasons it is so important to be aware of bone health now – later in life, you can only maintain it, not build it!
The three main ways to build up and maintain bone mass are:
- calcium: the recommendations change throughout a lifetime, if unable to reach these levels through food – a calcium supplement is recommended
Up to 1 year old — 210 to 270 milligrams (mg)
Age 1 to 3 years — 500 mg
Age 4 to 8 years — 800 mg
Age 9 to 18 years — 1,300 mg
Age 19 to 50 years — 1,000 mg
Age 51 and older — 1,200 mg
- vitamin D: helps your body absorb calcium – your body can make on its own with sunlight, and it is also present in some foods but I also take a supplement because I don’t spend that much time in the sun. Optimal amounts are not yet known, aim for about 1,000 IU’s/day
- exercise: helps build strong bones as well as slow bone loss – aim for weight bearing exercise and strength-training in addition to regular cardiovascular exercise
So what do we eat?
We all know that most dairy products are a good source of calcium, but many of us can not tolerate dairy or avoid it entirely.
- Good sources of Calcium: dairy products, fish, tofu and tempeh processed with calcium, calcium-fortified foods, greens like kale, collards, mustard greens
Vitamin D as we know can be produced in our bodies with natural sunlight but there are also a few food sources that contain Vitamin D:
- Good sources of Vitamin D: milk (most milk in the US is fortified with Vitamin D), eggs, fortified foods
Do you take precautions to ensure your bones are healthy?