Eat Your Way to Healthier Bones
Maintaining strong, healthy bones is always important, but is something to be increasingly mindful of as you age. Getting the right nutrients to strengthen your bones can make you less likely to develop osteoporosis, and help you to avoid breaks and fractures in general.
Calcium’s ability to strengthen the bones is ingrained in most from their childhood years, and with good reason. Getting enough calcium is essential if you want healthy bones, but your body does not produce calcium itself so it must be obtained from other sources. The recommended daily intake for adults is 700mg a day.
When it comes to getting enough calcium, dairy foods are the way to go. Research has shown that dairy food are the best for protecting against osteoporosis. Cow’s milk, cheese and yogurt are all rich sources of the bone-boosting nutrient. In fact, one cup of cow’s milk contains around a third of your recommended daily amount. For those with a dairy intolerance, you can get your fill from alternative milks, such as almond, rice or soy milk
Calcium can also be found in a number of non-dairy foods, such as broccoli, almonds, beans, and leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale. Sometimes it is added to foods such as cereals, breads and juices.
The body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium, which makes it an equally important contributor to healthy bones. Most people need around 400-800 IU (international units) a day, or 800-1000 IU if over the age of 50. You can usually easily get enough from you diet and your time spent out in the sun. For example, a typical serving of grilled salmon will contain enough for you to get your daily intake.
Besides salmon, vitamin D can be found in a number of foods. Particularly good sources include other oily fish like sardines and mackerel, eggs, fortified fat spreads and fortified cereals. Spending enough time outdoors is also important – just make sure you protect your skin with sunscreen and don’t overdo your exposure.
Studies have suggested that protein may improve your bone strength, as well as helping your body to heal after a bone fracture. Women should be getting 46g of protein each day, while men should be getting 56g.
There are plenty of protein-rich foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, yogurt, beans, nuts and milk. A 3-ounce serving of meat will typically contain around 21g of protein, while a cup of dried beans will have approximately 14g.
However, getting too much protein can actually cause your body to lose calcium which, of course, is the opposite of beneficial to your bones. It’s important to find the right balance between getting too little protein and too much.
Other Helpful Nutrients
Other nutrients which can have a positive impact on bone health include vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A. All nutrients can have negative effects if consumed to excess, so try to give your body the right amount without going overboard.
It’s best to get the key nutrients from your diet rather than supplement pills if you can. Supplements contain a very high concentration of whatever vitamin or nutrient they contain, which means that getting them from your food is a safer method, as it is less easy to consume excessive quantities. However, if for any reason supplements are needed, your doctor can give you advice on what you should be taking.
For healthy bones, moderation is key in other areas of your diet. Some research has shown that drinking too much alcohol can contribute to bone loss, while too much caffeine can make it hard for your body to absorb calcium.