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Nifty Nutrition Strategies: Food Choices that Support Bone Health



Never underestimate the nutrients that our bones require! Although they are big, strong, and support our everyday movements, bones undergo constant turnover, and can be weakened over time without proper nourishment.

 

Calcium is our bone's superhero, as it is the nutrient that is being added and pulled away from our bones daily. Bone health is important at every stage of life, not just when you’re a growing toddler or an older adult just finding out you have osteoporosis. A lifetime of adequate calcium intake will set our bodies and bones up for success and health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 1,000 mg of calcium for people under 50 and then increase to 1,200 mg for men and women over 50. This recommended increase is due to resorption, which is the increase in the breakdown of bones.

 

Food First!

 

Although supplementation can be necessary, you’ll hear Registered Dietitians like me advocating for “‘food first.” This holds for calcium. Knowing what food sources contain the essential nutrients for healthy growth is a key part of healthy and mindful eating. Achieve adequate daily calcium intake by choosing these foods:

 

●       Consume three servings of dairy or calcium-fortified soy foods, such as low-fat dairy milk, yogurt, or unsweetened soymilk, every day. You can mix and match your choices!

●       Add leafy-green vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collard greens into your meals and snacks to increase bone strength.

●       Incorporate soy-fortified tofu, salmon, and sardines into your weekly grocery list for more servings of calcium.

●       Choose foods fortified with calcium, like 100% fruit juices, milk, and cereals.

 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that also plays a key role in bone strength and health. Vitamin D allows calcium to be absorbed in your bones. Foods high in vitamin D are:

 

●       Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.

●       Mushrooms; a vegetarian source of vitamin D

●       Egg yolks

●       Vitamin D-fortified foods like some plant milks, juices, cereals, and oatmeals.

 

Food can help support the health of our bones. Other lifestyle factors that impact our bone health include maintaining physical activity and fitness, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake, and consuming an adequate amount of daily protein.

 

As you age, healthy bones are one of the keys to a great quality of life! By following my recommendations, you will take proactive steps to preserve or improve your bone health, ultimately enhancing your overall well-being. Investing in your bone health today will contribute to a lifetime of mobility, independence, and vitality.

 

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