Many women start losing bone mass in their mid-30’s. By the time menopause is reached, most of these women have developed osteoporosis! A proper diet along with optimal absorption of essential nutrients is necessary in preventing and even reversing bone loss, but calcium is not the only contributing dietary factor.
For the majority of Americans, our diet consists of refined, processed foods and sugar, which inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Here’s what you should include in your diet to insure the health and strength of your bones!
Bone is primarily composed of protein, calcium, and phosphate. Of the three, protein is the major essential nutrient for growth, healing and maintenance of your skeletal system throughout your lifetime. Therefore, adequate protein in the diet, along with optimal absorption is essential to maintain proper levels of these nutrients in your bones. Consume lean protein-rich foods such as poultry, eggs, fish and beans at most of your meals to get optimal levels.
Calcium and vitamin D are needed for building healthy bones; however, supplementation alone is not sufficient to prevent osteoporosis. Protein absorption, which is essential to proper bone health, must be addressed first. Secondly, vitamin D must be present in order to transport calcium from the stomach into the blood. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks and low fat dairy also contain the nutrient. Some of the best sources of calcium are found in dark green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach, and collards.
Magnesium is another essential bone building nutrient and is necessary for optimal calcium levels in the body. Magnesium is necessary to convert vitamin D into its active form so that it can “turn on” calcium absorption. Magnesium also stimulates the hormone calcitonin, which helps to preserve bone structure, helping to lower the likelihood of osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis, and even heart attacks and kidney stones. Rich sources of magnesium include bananas and figs, beans, seeds and nuts.
Essential fatty acids not only increase calcium absorption from the gut, they also are essential components of all membranes, including those of cartilage and bone. They also enhance the effects of vitamin D. Dry skin, falling hair, and PMS symptoms are signs of a fatty acid deficiency and thus indicate a disturbance in calcium absorption. Some great sources of fatty acids include fish, walnuts and flax seed oil.
These are just a few of the essential nutrients your body needs for building and maintaining healthy bones. As you can see, it’s not enough to ingest these foods. Optimal absorption is necessary if you are to get all the bone-building benefits of a great diet. If you are not confident you are getting and/or absorbing all the essential nutrients needed for your optimal bone health, schedule a consultation with Dr. Weber today! She will address your nutritional concerns and help to ensure the health and strength of your bones for both now and in the future.