Supporting bone health

June is well known as Dairy Month, but how do we keep those bones strong throughout life? Fortunately, some foods and activities help with that.

When we think of nutrients supporting bone health, our first thought is calcium. Calcium is a key component to healthy bones, but is isn’t the only one. Because a number of vitamins and minerals team up for strong bones, it makes sense to consider the top foods that tout a variety of bone-strengthening nutrients.

These are some foods that support bone health:

• Dairy products, including milk, cheese and yogurt. These foods also supply phosphorus, another nutrient needed for bone health.

• Canned seafood products, including salmon, sardines and shrimp are good options, as they have an even higher calcium content than fresh or frozen.

• Leafy greens, especially spinach, bok choy, collard and turnip greens.

• Legumes, seeds, almonds and tofu.

Other foods and beverages are fortified with calcium and play an important role in our total intake. Breakfast cereals, juices and nut- or seed-based milks often have calcium added during processing, as well as vitamin D. That’s important because you cannot absorb the calcium you eat without enough vitamin D.

Your body makes vitamin D when the sun shines directly on your skin and it only takes 10-15 minutes of sunlight a couple of times a week to get what you need. As we age, our skin gets thinner and less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D from sunlight.

Research continues to evolve on how much vitamin D we need and for many of us, a supplement is a good idea.

Other minerals, like magnesium and potassium, help keep bones healthy. Magnesium helps with your body’s vitamin D balance and potassium and potassium aids in reducing calcium loss from bones. Good sources include spinach and other dark greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Protein is another key nutrient for bone health at all stages of life. Most people, but not everyone, get enough. Older adults don’t always eat enough protein. If you are considering eating more protein, consider plant sources too, like nuts and beans. They offer calcium as well as protein.

Cindy Williams41 Posts

Cindy Williams is the Meadowlark Extension District agent in the areas of food and nutrition.

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