Maintaining healthy bones is essential to living a full and active life. Many foods contain minerals and vitamins that contribute to healthy bones. By including these foods in your regular diet you can increase the health of your bones.
The nutrients in these foods can also be a key factor in bone healing following a fracture and the prevention of osteoporosis.
Calcium is the major component of bones. It is important because it contributes to the strength and structural integrity of the skeleton. Consuming calcium as part of your daily diet assists in bone growth for children and adolescents and maintains bone mineral loss in postmenopausal women.
Milk is one of the best and cheapest sources of dietary calcium, though dairy, in general, is usually a rich calcium source. Dairy products also contain vitamin D, a vitamin shown to improve the health of bones.
Phosphorous and calcium support bone augmentation and maintenance. Often diets, especially those of older women, do not contain sufficient phosphorous to support the ongoing maintenance of bone.
The gut processes this mineral extremely efficiently, so adding phosphorus-rich foods to your diet is ideal for increasing it in your body. Nuts are high in phosphorous, with Brazil nuts and almonds, in particular, being an excellent source.
Vitamin K has been shown to increase bone mineral density and reduce the likelihood of bone fractures in people with osteoporosis. Together, vitamin D and vitamin K work synergistically to further increase bone density.
Leafy green vegetables include kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and lettuce. These vegetables are a great dietary source of vitamin K.
Beans, such as black beans, edamame, pinto, and kidney, contain a high level of bone-friendly nutrients, including calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Phytates are also plentiful in beans; recent research shows phytates inhibit the dissolution of bone and help prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is essential to bone health. A high-calcium diet has a limited ability to keep bones healthy if a person doesn't have a sufficient level of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. One serving of fatty fish is sufficient to meet your daily vitamin D requirements.
Magnesium helps maintain and strengthen bone density. It is also one of the minerals that helps repair bone after a fracture by decreasing the time it takes for a bone callus to form and increasing the production of the bone matrix.
All seeds are a dietary source of magnesium, but flax, pumpkin, and chia have particularly high levels of calcium, too.
If your body can't handle dairy, it is important to incorporate other calcium-rich foods into your diet. Fortified juices and cereals are excellent non-dairy dietary sources of calcium. Just eight ounces of fortified orange juice meets the recommended daily dietary intake of calcium required to maintain healthy bones.
Potassium is important in ongoing bone health because it neutralizes the acid load, which in turn reduces the loss of calcium from the bone and helping maintain bone density. Tomatoes are a rich potassium source: one medium tomato has 292mg of potassium.
Meat is considered one of the best dietary sources of protein, which is important for maintaining bone strength as you age.
While not eating enough protein is harmful to your bones, it is important to note too much protein can have a reverse effect and result in calcium loss, which over time decreases bone density.
While your diet plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones, it is also important to consider other factors that can help keep your bones strong and healthy. Smoking and the excessive consumption of alcohol have been shown to decrease bone density and increase bone loss.
Physical activity has also been shown to play a significant role in bone health, helping to build bones in younger adults and maintain bones in older adults. Regular exercise helps maintain the density of your bones, with high-impact exercise, specifically, contributing to increased bone strength.
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