Maintaining strong and healthy bones as you age is more important now as it has ever been. With longer life spans, our bones must last longer than our mothers or grandmothers bones ever did. So, how do you eat to ensure you are building strong, healthy bones?
Space It Out
Supplements are awash in today’s market. It doesn’t seem like you can go to a grocery store or gas station without seeing a shelf full of the latest and greatest vitamin and mineral supplements. Many of these supplements have high doses of your vitamins and minerals so that you believe you are getting the most for your money. However, there’s a catch.
What is bioavailability? It is the percentage of the vitamin or mineral available in the food that is absorbed into the body. In addition, there is usually a cap at which the body can no longer absorb any more of the vitamin or mineral and will either pass it or will develop a toxicity.
You may be familiar with this if you have ever taken a B vitamin supplement or shot. About 20 to 40 minutes after taking a B vitamin supplement, most people’s urine will turn an almost fluorescent yellow color, neon. This is your body passing the excess B vitamin through the renal system and out of the body through the urine. It is water soluble and doesn’t cause any toxicity.
Calcium has an upper-level toxicity level, can cause some damage, so it is best to take it from natural sources, and not supplements. Instead of peeing it out like you would with the B vitamin it could end up damaging your body.
In addition, supplements boasting high doses of calcium don’t consider the body can only absorb 500 mg of calcium at one time. Therefore, if you’re taking a supplement that has 2000 mg of calcium, you cannot absorb all of that, and according to the Dietary Reference Intake, you could end up hurting yourself.
Foods To Eat
Ok, we got the technical stuff out of the way, but that still doesn’t answer the question how do I eat for strong bones? Well, you want to eat plenty of calcium. Calcium is one of the key building blocks for bone density and without it, you’re going to be hard pressed to have strong bones. You also need other vitamins and minerals to help your body put that calcium to work.
Look at this list of foods and their Calcium, Vitamin C, Potassium, and Magnesium concentrations so that you can be on the lookout for these bone builders.
- Dark leafy greens: many dark greens can contain up to 200 mg of calcium, which is 20% of your daily goal.
- Grapefruit: Vitamin C helps prevent bone loss and one pink or red grapefruit has 91 mg of vitamin C giving you all you need for the entire day!
- Figs: Figs not only have 90 mg of calcium but they also are full of other nutrients necessary for bone health like potassium and magnesium.
- Eggs: 1 egg yolk contains 6% of your daily vitamin D. This means your breakfast of grapefruit and hard-boiled eggs may be the best thing you can do for your bone health.
- Salmon: Not only does salmon contain a ton of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids but also one 3-oz piece of fish contains 100% of your vitamin D. Talk about a nutritional powerhouse. Canned salmon even has the smaller, edible bones, which are fantastic sources of calcium.
- Fortified Cereals: Sometimes you just need something quick, if that’s the case look out for your fortified milk and cereal combination. With these two powerhouses, you can get up to 50 % of your daily calcium and vitamin D requirement. Most of the cereals sold are fortified, and all milk is fortified with vitamin D, so this quick sugary breakfast may not be as bad as you think.
So now, you know the ins and outs of how to eat for bone health. Skip the supplements, they are over rated and often can cause you to get more than what your body can absorb at one time anyway. Choose multiple servings of your bone health vitamins like calcium and potassium to ensure you can fully absorb everything you eat. Finally eat a wide variety of food; to get the most out of your diet variety is best.