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Bone Buffet: Foods That Fight The Good Fight Against Bone Loss

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an estimated eight million American women have osteoporosis, which is the result of decreased bone density. If you are a woman in your teens or twenties, you should know that an increased rate of bone resorption begins during your thirties, and once the rate of resorption surpasses the rate of bone tissue formation, bone loss occurs. Once you have osteoporosis, your risk of breaking a bone increases significantly. Osteoporosis cannot be cured, but you can step up your nutrition now to encourage the formation of stronger and denser bones. Find out which foods can help. A diet that is rich in calcium reaches far beyond milk, and you may be surprised to learn of some other foods that will nourishment your bones.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is a mineral that is essential for bone formation. Unfortunately, your body does not produce calcium, which means that you need to take in calcium through nutrition and supplementation. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that is required by your body for the absorption of calcium. Your body can produce vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Since many people are concerned with skin cancer risks, remain indoors throughout the daylight hours, or reside in climates that are not warm and sunny all year, depending on the sun for vitamin D intake is not realistic. You need to supplement your vitamin D intake through nutrition and supplementation. The following amounts of calcium and vitamin D are the recommended daily allowances for women:

  • If you are less than 51 years of age, you need 1,000 mg. of calcium daily.
  • If you are 51 years of age or older, you need 1,200 mg. of calcium daily.
  • If you are less than 51 years of age, you need at least 400-800 international units of vitamin D daily.
  • If you are 51 years of age or older, you need at least 800 to 1,000 international units of vitamin D daily.

If you are taking a multivitamin or calcium supplement with added vitamin D each day, you're off to a good start in preserving your bone health. However, you should strive to get most of your nutrients from food, using supplements only to fill in the gaps. Plenty of foods contain calcium and vitamin D, and many of them also provide additional nutrients for optimal health.

Milk and Dairy Products

Milk contains calcium and is fortified with vitamin D. These nutrients span across the board of commercially sold cow's milk, so choosing a healthier low-fat or non-fat version will not compromise your bone health. Goat's milk also contains calcium and vitamin D. You can also turn to yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, and cheeses for calcium. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you may want to consider consuming a nut milk instead, such as almond milk. Keep in mind that some nut milks contain more added sugar than others, and nut milks do not naturally contain calcium or vitamin D, but many manufacturers fortify their nut milks with these nutrients. Read the labels carefully when you shop for nut milks. If you prefer to keep dairy out of your meal plans, there are other foods to turn to for your calcium and vitamin D needs.

From the Waters

Canned sardines and anchovies are good sources of calcium, and the following fresh fish bring vitamin D to the table:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel

These fatty fish also provide heart-healthy omega 3 fats to promote cardiovascular health, and fish is an excellent protein source.

Eat Your Vegetables

Green and leafy vegetables are rich in calcium, and they also contain other vitamins and minerals that are essential for overall health, such as magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and K. These power veggies include the following:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Okra
  • Soybeans

Seaweed, which is often used in Japanese cuisine, also contains calcium. When it comes to legumes, white beans and black-eyed peas are also your skeleton's friend when it comes to feeding it calcium. Sesame seeds contain calcium as well.

Bring On Breakfast

Egg yolks contain calcium. If you prefer cereal to jump start your day, many cereals, including oatmeal, are fortified with calcium. Some of them are also fortified with vitamin D. Tossing some almonds into that oatmeal will bump up your calcium intake even further, as will dried apricots or dried figs. When it comes to fresh fruits, calcium is found in oranges, tangerines and kiwis. Some orange juice varieties are fortified with calcium and vitamin D as well.

Extend the health of your bones for years to come by eating a nutritionally balanced diet that includes the aforementioned food sources of calcium and vitamin D, engaging in daily physical fitness activity and following your physician's recommendations for a bone density screening schedule.

If you are already having issues with your bones, reach out to a specialist at a place like the Milford Hospital for more direction.