Osteoporosis affects more than 20 million people in the US. Most of these individuals are women, though men and children are also affected. The United States consumes more dairy and protein than any other country in the world, yet we have the world’s highest rate of osteoporosis and bone fractures among the elderly.
Calcium supplements alone won’t correct or prevent the weakening of the bones. The key is to increase the consumption of bio-available forms of calcium along with the other minerals and nutrients that enhance calcium absorption and utilization by the body.
Best Foods and Practices
Calcium is most efficiently absorbed when taken in divided doses throughout the day. Taking your calcium between meals increases the calcium’s bio-availability. Take your major dose of calcium before bedtime for maximum utilization.
Your snacks between meals to boost your calcium intake can include: broccoli, seafood, sea vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables (dandelion greens, kale, etc), hazelnuts, sesame seeds, wheat germ, oats, and soyfoods. Fermented soy products are especially helpful – miso, tempeh have excellent calcium content and phytoestrogenic value. Eat whole grains. Include garlic, and onions, as well as eggs for their high sulfur content.
Exercise! Did you know walking is the best exercise to maintain bone mass? Spend time in the sunshine – just 15 minutes 3 times a week fulfills your vitamin D needs. This is especially true during the winter months when there is less exposure to sunshine and physical exercise takes a hit. Make sure to take your vitamin D3 during the winter months and to find alternative ways to exercise if walking outside in your area is less available due to ice. Many malls have walking programs, as do park districts. Both these are not only good for your bone health, they’re also mental health boosters!
Who is at Risk?
In general, everyone is at risk for bone loss who have these habits or health issues: mineral deficiencies, smoking, caffeine consumption, alcohol consumption, extended use of synthetic thyroid medication, chronic lung disorders (bronchitis, emphysema), lack of exercise, excessive antibiotic use, and extended corticoid-steroid use.
Postmenopausal woman are at risk for bone loss. Women who have Asian or Caucasian ancestry are at a higher risk. If you have a family history of bone loss, be extra vigilant about your calcium intake and habits. Women who have had not given birth have shown a higher risk of bone loss. If you are female and over 75, you are also at risk for bone loss.
Schedule an appointment with me if you’d like to review your supplements, discuss a wellness plan, or learn how your daily habits may be affecting your bone health.