Eating Smart for Bone Health
Healthy Habits for Healthy Living
Eating Smart for Bone Health
When it comes to building and maintaining strong, healthy bones, what you eat plays an important role in determining your bone health. Consuming adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood is essential for strong bones.
The Calcium Connection
Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is found in certain foods, added to others, available as a dietary supplement, and present in some medicines, such as antacids. Ninety nine percent of the body’s calcium supply is found in the bones and teeth where it supports their structure and function. The other one percent is found in our blood to support many critical functions. Keeping the calcium levels in our blood at a constant concentration is so important that if you aren’t getting enough calcium through your diet, then our bodies will take calcium from the bones to make sure the blood levels remain within normal limits.
|Throughout our life, calcium is either being deposited into the bones during periods of growth and formation, or broken down and released from the bones into the blood. This process is referred to as bone remodeling and the balance between these two processes changes with age. During periods of growth in children and adolescents, bone formation exceeds bone breakdown. In early and middle adulthood both processes are relatively equal but in aging adults, particularly among postmenopausal women, bone breakdown exceeds formation, resulting in bone loss. This condition is referred to as osteoporosis and it is a serious public health problem for more than 10 million U.S. adults, 80% of whom are women. Another 34 million have osteopenia, or low bone mass, which precedes osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is most associated with fractures of the hip, vertebrae, wrist, pelvis, ribs, and other bones. An estimated 1.5 million fractures occur each year in the United States due to osteoporosis.|
In addition to a diet low in calcium and the bone loss that is part of the normal aging process, many other factors increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. These include being female, thin, inactive, smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and having a family history. If any of these risk factors pertain to you, you may want to ask your physician about getting a bone mineral density test.
Where to Find Calcium
Adults under the age of 50 need 1,000mg of calcium each day; after 50, the daily requirement increases to 1,200mg. But if you are like most Americans, you’re probably not getting enough. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, only 10 percent of women consume the recommended three servings, compared to 27 percent of men.
Listed below are ideas on how to make up the difference. In addition to adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D, weight-bearing exercises (such as walking, running, and activities where one’s feet leave and hit the ground and work against gravity) and resistance exercises (such as calisthenics and that involve weights) are also important in supporting bone health.
Dairy food sources
Food sources are the best choice for obtaining calcium, and the best food source, hands down, is dairy.
One cup of low-fat milk, one cup of low-fat yogurt, and one-and-a-half ounces of low-fat cheddar cheese each contain about 300mg of calcium. Milk, in particular, is an excellent source of calcium because it is fortified with vitamin D.
Nondairy food sources
Canned salmon or sardines-3 ounces contain 200 to 325mg
Baked beans and black-eyed peas-one cup contains 150 to 200mg
Leafy greens such as kale or turnip greens—1/2 cup of cooked greens contains 90 to 120mg
Cereal, bread, tofu, orange juice, and milk analogs, like soy milk, that are fortified with calcium can help fill in nutritional gaps. In fortified beverages, calcium can sink to the bottom of the container (it is a mineral, so it’s heavy). Shake the carton well before pouring a glass
For those of you who have specific nutrition related questions, feel free to contact me at AskMarshDietitian@marsh.net.
|___||Mary Snell, MS RD CD
Director of Nutrition and Wellness