Maintaining critical bone mass as you age requires the right amount of nutrients. You may already know that a regular diet of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D helps keep your body strong, but these bone health heavy-hitters aren’t the only nutrients on the block. See which foods provide the right mix of nutrients for bone health, so you can keep your skeleton strong.
1. Low-Fat Dairy
The primary building block for bone health, your body needs calcium. And bones are the main storage site for calcium in the body. Low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are calcium rich to help build and maintain strong bones. And calcium-fortified orange juice helps, too. Because your body doesn’t produce calcium, supplements can help you avoid the risk of fractures. Ask an orthopedics specialist about supplementing 1,5000 milligrams of calcium a day, or more if you have osteoporosis.
2. Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens like spinach help prevent joint pain with bone-healthy nutrients like magnesium and vitamin K. Magnesium can also be found in foods like cashews, bananas and brown rice. A nutrient commonly found in most greens, vitamin K could help reduce your risk of bone fracture by up to 30 percent.
You may already know that bananas are rich in potassium, but did you know that studies have shown that banana-lovers have stronger bones? Potassium can also be found in baked potatoes, tomatoes and plums. Try to get your potassium from diet and not supplementation, because potassium supplements have been shown to be detrimental to heart health.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, and salmon has lots. Salmon is also a good source of protein and vitamin B12, which help support bone health. You can also find vitamin D in egg yolks and fortified beverages, or get your daily dose by spending 20 minutes a day in the sun. While many doctors recommend getting 1,000 – 1,200 IU of vitamin D a day, especially for women over age 65, roughly 75 percent of people are deficient. Always consult your orthopedics doctor for supplement dosing information.
Along with eating the right foods to build and maintain bones, avoiding excessive amounts of foods that are detrimental to your bone health will help keep your body strong. Foods like salt, soft drinks, alcohol and caffeine can actually leach calcium from the bones and cause joint pain. Additionally, while healthy in the proper amounts, too much protein and vitamin A can also deplete your bones of vital nutrients and lead to damage.
Learn more about orthopedics at HealthONE.