Bone Health Matters
Good nutrition supports healthier bones.
By Amy Hundley, RD, LD
Osteoporosis, often referred to as a “silent killer” is a disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone or makes too little bone that eventually leads to fractures, breaks, or falls. Not only is osteoporosis the most common bone disease but it also causes the most destruction to productivity and quality of life. Fortunately, there are healthy steps you can take to significantly minimize its development by building and maintaining your bone base foundation.
Bone Filled Nutrients
The first step you can take is to focus on your dietary intake. Here are the key nutrients needed for bone health support.
Calcium Considered the most vital nutrient for normal bone structure and function, calcium is stored in all your 206 total bones. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1,000 mg/day for both men and women ages 19-30 and 1,200mg for 51-70 year olds.
Vitamin D This vitamin pays dividends towards bone health by helping calcium absorb. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600IU/day for both sexes ages 19-70 while those older than 70 require 800IUs.
Vitamin K Another essential vitamin which works by improving bone mineral density. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 120 μg/day for men aged 19+ and 90 μg/day for women aged 19+.
Foods to Include
Since bone mineral density starts to diminish as early as the age of 40 and declines by 2% each year thereafter, it’s important to include these foods on a daily basis.
Calcium Your bones can always bank on traditional dairy foods such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. But think outside the bone building box and reach for non-dairy sources such as almonds, broccoli, tofu, figs, and sesame seeds. In fact, just one tablespoon of sesame seeds meets 10% of the RDA. Toss the seeds into bowls of cereal, yogurt, and salads.
Vitamin D The best way to obtain vitamin D is through direct sunlight exposure. Few foods naturally contain this sunny vitamin which includes egg yolks, salmon, tuna, sardines, and mushrooms. However, cereals, juices, yogurt and margarine spread can be fortified with it. Only 3 ounces of canned sardines provides 70% of the RDA. Top this fatty fish to salads, whole wheat toast, or pasta.
Vitamin K When you think of this vitamin, always think green. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce are excellent sources. Other foods include Brussel sprouts, kiwi, and avocados. Just one cup of a cubed avocado provides roughly 30% of the RDA. Add avocados to crackers, sandwiches, toast, and salads.
General Bone Building Tips
Stay Active The American Academy of Sports Medicine recommends weight-bearing endurance activities (i.e., walking, stair-stepping and tennis) 3-5 times per week and resistance exercise (weight lifting) 2-3 times per week.
Limit Caffeine Consumption Caffeine may increase your body’s excretion of calcium, contributing towards lower bone density.
Overall, by filling your bones with the right nutrition along with physical activity, you will be rewarded with a solid bone base foundation.
Amy Hundley is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, licensed in Kansas & Missouri and a freelance nutrition writer.