Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. In osteoporosis bone loss or loss of bone density and tissue occurs. All of us lose some bone density with age, but in some people the bone loss is more than normal. This results in thinning of bones or osteoporosis. But do you know you can lower your risk of bone loss by eating foods that make bones healthy and strong and taking supplements.
Preventing osteoporosis through diet: Calcium
Calcium helps to make bones strong and healthy. Bone is not a static organ. Calcium is deposited and lost from the bones every day. If you lose more calcium from the bones than is replaced, then you are at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Calcium is an essential mineral as your body does not make calcium. The body gets calcium from the foods you eat. Foods rich in calcium include diary products such as milk, cheese and yogurt; and leafy, green vegetables, tofu, almonds, canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines).
The amount of calcium needed for adults and children is different.
- Adults older than 50 years of age need 1,200 milligrams every day, and in between the ages 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium every day.
- Children between 9 to 18 years need 1,300 mg of calcium every day.
Milk and milk products are the richest source of dietary calcium. Besides calcium dairy foods also provide phosphorus. Phosphorus is also needed for making strong bones. If your intake of milk and milk products is insufficient your dietary intake of calcium will be insufficient.
If you can’t get enough calcium with your diet plan then you will need calcium supplement. You should consult your doctor for calcium supplements.
Preventing osteoporosis through diet: Protein
Besides calcium protein is also needed to make strong and healthy. Some good sources of protein are
- Meats, poultry, eggs, and fish.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Dairy products.
- Legumes, dry beans and peas.
Your protein intake should be adequate as both low and high protein diets affect your body’s ability to use calcium. Women more than 19 years of age need 46 grams of protein per day and men of the same age need 56 grams of protein per day.
Preventing osteoporosis through diet: Other nutrients for strong bones
In addition to calcium and protein you need vitamin D to make your bones strong. Adults younger than 50 years need 400 to 800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D and adults more than 50 years need 800 to 1,000 IU daily.
Your daily need for vitamin D will be met if you are exposed to sunlight for at least 15 minutes daily. If you think your exposure to sun is not adequate then you will vitamin D supplement. Dietary sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, liver, fatty fish, fortified milk and other dairy products, fortified margarine.
Other minerals and vitamins which are needed for making bones strong and healthy are magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, fluoride, and vitamins A and C.
Preventing osteoporosis through diet: The food vs. supplement debate
If your diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, meats, beans, nuts, and seeds you will get the minerals and vitamins needed to make bones strong and prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. It is always better to get the nutrients you need from healthy eating rather than relying on multi-vitamins according to experts. But if you can’t get enough calcium from your diet then you will need calcium and other mineral supplements.
You should consult your doctor regarding the supplements that are needed.