In previous articles, I’ve discussed my suggestions for supplements that support bone and joint health. I understand that some people don’t want to start their day with lots of pills, and there’s always the option to incorporate foods into your diet that give you the nutrients you need to maintain strong, healthy bones.
Here are several ways you can eat your way to better bone density.
Dairy. When it comes to calcium, dairy is king. I recommend consuming low-fat or fat-free dairy products with your meals to incorporate more calcium into your diet without the added fat and calories. Many dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D to aid in calcium absorption. Without enough vitamin D, your body can’t effectively utilize the calcium you consume.
Fish. Sardines, salmon, tuna, and mackerel all contain both vitamin D and calcium, making them a great addition or alternative to dairy products in your diet.
Dark Leafy Greens. Vegetables like kale, collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and Brussel sprouts are all rich in vitamin K. Studies have shown that this vitamin plays a role in bone metabolism and protection against osteoporosis. Some of these foods can also provide you with extra calcium and magnesium.
Sweet Potatoes. This root vegetable is an excellent source of manganese, a trace nutrient necessary for the synthesis of connective tissue in both cartilage and bone. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of magnesium. Many people know that calcium is good for your bones and that vitamin D is necessary to absorb and utilize it. However, there is one more factor in this absorption equation﹘ magnesium. Magnesium has to be present in order to convert vitamin D into its active form; only then can it aid in calcium absorption.
Fish and Flaxseed Oils. These oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which has proven beneficial for your bones. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and slow the degradation of bone cells, resulting in stronger bones in the long term.
While there are lots of foods that are good for your bone health, there are also some that should be eaten in moderation when focusing on strengthening your bones and staving off osteoporosis.
Processed Foods. Foods high in salt, such as processed foods, cause your body to lose calcium and can lead to bone loss. Start by limiting the amount of processed foods, canned foods and salt added to the foods you consume daily. If a food’s nutrition label lists its sodium content as 20% or more of your daily value, it’s a high sodium food. It’s ideal to eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Choose Your Drinks Wisely. Many popular drink choices, such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and soft drinks, can be harmful to your bones. Drinking more than two to three of these types of drinks per day has been linked to bone loss.
However you’re meeting your nutritional needs, be sure to keep an eye on the amount of nutrients you’re consuming regularly to ensure effectiveness. Get to cooking, and eat your way to healthy bones for a lifetime!