5 tips for a bone healthy diet
Bone strength and why it matters
How strong are your bones? If you’re not sure, you may be taking your bone strength for granted. Just like you have to maintain muscle strength to stay strong, you need to actively strengthen your bones, or you risk losing bone mass over time.
Your bones incorporate minerals and gain mass throughout your childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. At the age of 30, your bones reach peak bone mass. If you don’t create enough bone mass during this time, or experience bone loss later in life, your bones are much more likely to become fragile and break easily.
If you want to figure out how healthy your bones are, talk to your primary care provider about taking a bone density test. This examination will reveal whether you currently have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition where your bones lose tissue and become brittle. Hormonal changes or a diet low in calcium and vitamin D can trigger osteoporosis.
A bone-friendly diet
The good news is that keeping your bones strong and healthy is easy, provided you follow some simple dietary guidelines. The first step is to incorporate plenty of calcium and vitamin D into your diet.
Calcium is a mineral that supports the structure of your bones and teeth. But your body cannot process calcium properly without the help of vitamin D. Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium in the first place. If you don’t include both calcium and vitamin D in your diet, your bones will suffer.
You can get vitamin D by getting some sun. Your skin naturally produces vitamin D when it is exposed to the UV-B rays in sunlight. However, since too much sun can damage your skin, working on your tan isn’t the best way to meet your vitamin D requirements. Moreover, most sunscreens stop your skin from creating vitamin D. Instead, it’s best to get your vitamin D by consuming foods rich in these substances.
Important at every age
While it’s ideal to strengthen your bones early on in life, eating a healthy diet that supports and grows your bone mass is important no matter your age. Even if you’re already suffering from weak bones or osteoporosis, getting your bones the nutrients they need can slow the disease and prevent fractures.
By the numbers
If you’re under 50, you should consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 200 international units (IUs) of vitamin D each day. If you’re over 50, you should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 IUs of vitamin D each day.
What’s the best way to achieve these nutrition goals? If you add the following five foods to your diet, you’ll be well on your way to stronger, healthier bones.
- Vegetables. It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of vegetables to a healthy diet, and even more so to a bone-healthy diet. Eating plenty of green and yellow vegetables, like broccoli, has been linked to increased bone density during childhood and healthy bone mass in young adults. Vegetables may be of particular benefit for older women. In one study, women over 50 who consumed onions frequently experienced a 20 percent lower risk of osteoporosis than women who rarely ate them. Plus, vegetables are packed with vitamin C, which also contributes to good bone density. Eating about two cups of vegetables each day should help you reach your daily requirement.
- Mushrooms. Don’t forget the fungus either — mushrooms can be a good complementary source of vitamin D.
- Dairy. Calcium is the main mineral in found in your bones, and is also present in most dairy products, like milk, cheese and yogurt. Make sure to spread out your calcium intake over the course of the day to optimize absorption.
- Fatty fish. Consuming fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel is an excellent way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. In fact, six ounces of uncooked salmon contains more than 600 IU (or the average daily requirement for people over 50) and three times the average daily requirement for people under 50. Sardines are another great option. They contain lots of both vitamin D and calcium. They also make any pasta dish or salad more savory.
- Fortified cereal. A good breakfast can provide you with up to 25 percent of your daily vitamin D requirement. Fortified cereals contain generous doses of vitamin D. Getting your vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat is always a better option than relying on supplements.
If you’re concerned that your bones aren’t as healthy as they should be, or that you might have osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Schedule an evaluation with Onward Orthopedic today by filling out a request online or by calling one of our friendly Patient Care Managers at 210.880.3823.