Do you know how your bones work? Did you know they are living tissue, the same as any other part of the body? Bone health is connected to our body’s overall health, and if anything is failing or overworked or undernourished, it will affect our bones. In prior blogs, we discussed the impact food and nutrients, such as calcium and Vitamin D, have on our bones. This time, we will go into further detail on exactly how the bones react to a diet that is rich in the nutrients they need.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) lays the foundation for bone health on its website, stating a little known fact: Bones constantly break down and remodel themselves, which means we all end up with completely new skeletons about every 10 years.
Much of the bone structure is protein, and contains connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels, and marrow at the center. Good nutrition, according to the IOF, “doesn’t just support bone mineralization – it helps the whole skeletal complex stay healthy too.” So when there is any strain on the bone, such as exercising, stretching, or bearing any sort of load, such as carrying bags of groceries, your bones are sent a signal to reform.
“Microtrauma – tiny cracks and damage – tell the bones to adapt, repair, and ultimately strengthen. Old bone is removed and new bone is laid down,” the IOF states.
So what can you eat to maintain bone health? Well, it’s no secret that the best way to bone health is through the stomach, which means eating a balanced diet of whole, fresh foods and get regular exercise, which signals the bones to rebuild.
Here are further details on the most important nutrients needed for strong bones:
Calcium Helps Build Bones
About 99% of the body’s calcium is contained in bone, so it is easy to associate bone strength with this nutrient. Quite simply, bone-building requires calcium. We need between 600-1200 mg of dietary calcium daily, with teenagers needing the most to support bone growth. In tandem with Vitamin D, the body uses hormonal messages to tell the calcium where it is needed. Would you rather take a calcium supplement? According to precisionnutrition.com, research shows that the body won’t benefit from more than 1000 mg of calcium daily and that over-supplementing could be harmful.
There could be problems, however, with food containing calcium and the way it is absorbed because of the presence of phytates and oxalates. Phytates are found in grains, seeds and nuts, and oxalates in foods such as spinach, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and walnuts. So even though spinach contains calcium, it is not a good source of calcium because its oxalate content prevents the body from absorbing the nutrient.
Want to choose foods that are kinder to your calcium needs? Try broccoli, bok choy, and kale.
Vitamin D is Necessry for Calcium Absorbtion
Vitamin D is necessary to absorbing calcium, as we have discussed in prior blogs. Precisionnutrition.com states that “if our blood vitamin D levels are under 30 ng/ml, our calcium absorption drops by 10-15%.” So we should shoot for a blood vitamin D between 30-40 ng/ml.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common and doctors suggest that people supplement their Vitamin D needs to ensure that adequate levels are maintained.
Protein Indirectly Affects Bone Health
Protein makes up 20-30% of bone mass, and also influences growth hormones and growth factors in the body – all things that indirectly affect bone health. Higher protein intake leads to higher calcium absorption, and there is evidence, according to medical researchers, that a high-calcium and high-protein diet is best for bone health.
If you’re eating enough protein, you’re also getting phosphorous, which also impacts bone health. But too much phosphorous can harm bones and limit the formation of Vitamin D in the body. Too little phosphorous is also bad. Eating a balanced diet of meat, milk, cheese and poultry is best for phosphorous intake.
Other vitamins, such as K,C and E, as well as the B vitamins and Vitamin A, sodium and magnesium, are also vital to bone health.
Knowing that you are making the best moves for your bone health can give you confidence and boost your self-esteem – poor walking and poor posture could be direct results of a problem with diet, thus, having negative affects on bones. Always make sure to eat enough fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Dried fruit in particularly can help with bone health. Not a fan of, say, dried plums? Perhaps you should be. Research shows that dried plums, and many other dried fruits, contain flavonoids, which are antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. Adding 10 dried plums a day to your diet could help to increase your bone health, according to studies. Also, adding dairy to your diet helps your bones, because dairy is rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Visit your Ft Lauderdale chiropractor to receive a bone health evaluation, along with information on the best programs to ensure continuing bone health and a diet specifically designed to help you eat right so you can continue to live an active lifestyle.
Prepare yourself and your body for the future – what sort of life do you want 10 or 20 years down the road? One in which you can maintain your lifestyle or one in which your bones have deteriorated? Be kind to your bones and you’ll be able to walk strong for years. Let a Ft. Lauderdale chiropractor help you with the best choices to keep your bones strong and solid.