Eating For Bone Health
Did you know that by the time you reach 30 years of age, you will have already achieved your peak bone mass?
This is why it is important to start building up a sufficient amount of bone mass in your body when you’re younger. Otherwise you might have a higher risk of developing fragile bones that can break easily when you’re older.
When discussing bone health, there are some important terms you should be familiar with:
- Osteoporosis: causes bones to become weak and brittle bones
- Osteopenia: bone loss that has not reached the stage of osteoporosis
Both of these conditions are characterized by low bone density.
WHAT IS BONE DENSITY?
Bone density is a measurement of the amount of calcium and other minerals that are found in your bones.
The best way to determine if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia is by having a bone density test performed – the test detects if your bone density is lower than normal for someone that is your same age and gender.
Your medical practitioner can provide you with more information about bone density testing.
4 Steps to Improve Your Bone Health
The food you eat plays an important role, so here are some helpful eating tips to help prevent osteoporosis:
- CONSUME CALCIUM DAILY
Calcium is the main mineral found in bones, making it the most essential mineral for bone health. It protects your bone structure and strength.
It is important that you consume Calcium on a daily basis because old bone cells are continuously being broken down (resorption) and replaced by new bone cells (osteoblasts).
Spreading your Calcium intake out throughout the day allows for better absorption by your body.
Foods high in Calcium include:
- Milk, cheese & yogurt (if you can tolerate dairy; look for organic, cultured products)
- Broccoli, kale & spinach
- GET ENOUGH VITAMIN D
Vitamin D helps your body absorb Calcium, but unfortunately, many people have a vitamin D deficiency.
Some studies show that both children and adults with low Vitamin D levels tend to have lower bone density.
Sources of Vitamin D are: natural sunlight, fatty fish, and some dairy products.
[suggested to add in and expand on the connection with Vitamin K + Vitamin D as it relates to bone health – see references]
- EAT MORE VEGETABLES
Vegetables contain high amounts of Vitamin C, which stimulates the production of bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) and therefore increases bone density.
Some studies say that a high intake of green and yellow vegetables can increase bone mineralization during childhood and help with maintenance of bone mass in young adults.
[suggestion: go into more detail on the importance of incorporating more vegetables, and more plant foods into your diet in general for health benefits – not just bone health; see references]
- CONSUME ENOUGH PROTEIN
Protein is important for bone health because protein makes up about 50% of bones.
Some studies indicate that low protein consumption decreases Calcium absorption, and that older women who consume higher amounts of protein appear to have better bone density. Therefore, low protein intake can lead to bone loss.
Foods high in protein include:
- Meat, poultry, and eggs
- Cottage cheese
- Tuna, and most fish
- Lentils, peanuts and almonds
- Portabella mushrooms, green peas, and broccoli
Don’t take your bones for granted! By following these 4 eating for bone health tips, you’ll be taking proactive steps for increasing bone mass, improving your bone health and decreasing your risk of developing fragile bones or osteoporosis down the line.
Here is a quick, simple, and tasty salad recipe that is full of Calcium for you to enjoy!
Arugula Strawberry Salad
2 cups arugula
½ cup chopped fresh strawberries
12 whole almonds, slivered
1 Tbsp. goat cheese, crumbled (if you tolerate dairy, but can substitute with dairy-free cheese)
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Combine the following:
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. dijon mustard
¼ tsp. dried basil, ¼ tsp dried tarragon
Pinch salt & pepper to taste
Couple of drops of liquid Stevia or honey to sweeten
Mix the arugula, strawberries, almonds, and goat cheese in a large bowl. Toss gently. Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette dressing and toss again. Serve and enjoy.
Protecting Bone Health on a Vegan Diet: https://www.theveganrd.com/vegan-nutrition-101/vegan-nutrition-primers/protecting-bone-health-on-a-vegan-diet/