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Top Nutrients to Strengthen Your Bones

Do I need Calcium, Vitamin D, or both?

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis and low bone mass are major public health threats to almost 44 million Americans. Of these 44 million people, 35 percent are ages 50 and older. A lack of essential nutrients from eating a healthy balanced diet can lead to this prevalent diagnosis. Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important nutrients needed to strengthen your bones and combat these bone-related health issues.

About 99 percent of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones. If you’re not getting enough calcium through your diet, your body will withdraw the calcium from your bones, resulting in decreased bone density and a heightened risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

Peak bone density is attained by your early 20s, so adequate calcium intake is essential for children and adolescents. From that point on, it’s necessary to focus on maintaining bone density, which gradually starts reducing as you grow older. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults need 1,000-2,000 mg of calcium per day. In combination with other minerals, calcium forms hard crystals that give bones structure and strength. In addition, a small amount of calcium is also used for healthy functioning of the muscles, nerves, heart and blood.

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To ensure you’re consuming a proper amount of calcium each day try adding the following foods to your grocery list:

Dairy: Milk, cheese and low-fat Greek yogurt
Protein: Canned salmon, sardines, tofu and white beans
Vegetables: Collard greens, kale, broccoli, cabbage, okra, watercress, bok choy and soybeans
Nuts: Almonds

Vitamin D
This “sunshine” vitamin is essential for good health and is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium which is important for building strong bones. Since Vitamin D is not found in many foods, it’s difficult to meet the recommended nutritional requirement from diet alone. Soaking up at least 20 minutes of daily sun exposure will help your skin synthesize additional traces of vitamin D. (Side note: remember to use sunscreen!) However, if you can’t get enough sun, consider a vitamin D supplement to improve your bone health.

To ensure you’re receiving a proper amount each day try adding the below foods to your grocery list. Of course, remember to double-check nutrition labels for the presence of Vitamin D.

Dairy: Eggs and some powered milks
Protein: Oily fish such as mackerel and sardines
Other: Fortified fat spreads and breakfast cereals

Other nutrients play a role in strengthening your bones, but ensuring that you consume the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D is a great start to help prevent osteoporosis and low bone mass while increasing your ability to live a long, active life.

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