There are a handful of ways to maintain strong and healthy bones. Weight bearing exercise is one of them. You could also consider reducing the stress in your life. (Cortisol is a bone-depleting hormone released in response to stress.) Another step you can take is to make a point to eat bone-building foods.
We’re talking about eating foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin D and calcium. While eating well is easy to talk about, it’s not always so easy to follow through on. Try the following tips to help you get more bone building foods into your diet and help keep your bones strong and healthy.
1. Know Your Food Sources and the RDA – Do you know what foods contain calcium and vitamin D? And do you know how much you’re supposed to get on a daily basis? This is the first step. The RDA for calcium is 1000 milligrams per day until age 50. After 50 you want to get 1200 milligrams. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU before age 70 and 800 IU after age 70.
Fortified orange juice and non-dairy products are good sources of vitamin D and calcium. Additionally, dairy products are good sources. Dark leafy greens, beans, cold water fish, and many seeds and nuts are also good sources of vitamin D and calcium.
2. Assess Your Intake – Once you’ve identified your food sources of calcium and vitamin D, take a look at the foods you regularly eat. Are they on that list? Are you already getting enough of both? If not, how much more do you need to consume each day?
3. Plan and Prepare – Once you know you need to boost your intake, you can begin to make changes. Identify food sources that you enjoy that are rich in the necessary bone building nutrients. For example, you may only need a few more milligrams of calcium each day and decide that spinach is an efficient source. Add it to your weekly shopping list and begin identifying tasty spinach recipes. (Try a spinach, pear and celery smoothie - choose a ripe conference pear for the best taste!)
4. Make it Easy – Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to bulk up on calcium and vitamin D. For example, a bowl of fortified cereal with milk and a glass of juice may be all you need to consume for the day. Some fortified cereals have 100% of your RDA for both calcium and vitamin D.
5. At Every Meal – Change the way you eat. Add some nutrient-dense foods to your snacks and meals. For example, a handful of nuts as a snack or sprinkled on your salad can help you reach your goals. Enjoy a yogurt for dessert and eat dark leafy greens at least once a day.
Simple changes to your daily eating habits can make a huge difference in your bone health. Supplementation may be necessary if you can’t get your nutrients from food, however, natural is always best and your bone health is especially important to your wellbeing as you get older.