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The Osteoporosis Prevention Diet

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1The Osteoporosis Prevention Diet Empty The Osteoporosis Prevention Diet on 28th December 2009, 4:55 pm

The Osteoporosis Prevention Diet
A calcium-rich diet can help fight osteoporosis, and the sooner you begin, the better.

Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH Print Email
If you are concerned about osteoporosis and maintaining healthy bones, simple changes to your diet can help. Eating a variety of foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals is essential to long-term bone health.

“Nutrition plays a key role in building and keeping bones strong,” says Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. “Bone cannot build the matrix of tissues it needs for optimum strength without optimum nutrition. Bones are made up of more than just calcium. You need adequate protein, vitamin D, vitamin K, and the right amount of phosphorous, too.”

Calcium Plus: Creating a Bone-Healthy Diet
The first thing you can do to get more calcium through your diet is to incorporate dairy products into each of your meals. “Low-fat or skim dairy foods add needed calcium, vitamin D, and protein to any meal,” says Sandon.

Look for a low-fat label on these calcium-rich dairy options:

Yogurt Milk Cheese Cottage cheese Other foods that include calcium and vitamin D include:

Beans Almonds Canned sardines with bones Canned salmon with bones Fortified cereal, juice, or soy milk

Sandon says that a fear of fat has caused many people to remove cheese from their diet, but this might not be good for bones. “Broccoli may have some calcium in it, but it is very low in comparison to dairy foods and not as easily absorbed. So I say add the calcium and protein back to your broccoli by adding a slice of cheese,” advises Sandon.

Calcium: Bone Up on the Recommendations
It is important to get the recommended daily value of calcium for your age. These guidelines can serve as your point of reference:

Ages 9 to 18: 1300 milligrams (mg) Ages 19 to 50: 1000 mg Ages 51 and above: 1200 mg These numbers may seem intimidating, but are less so when you consider that a single 8-ounce serving of milk provides 300 mg of calcium. National surveys suggest that many women and girls get less than half of the recommended daily amount of calcium. It is never too early — or too late — to begin adding calcium to your daily diet. Two to three cups of milk per day, a few slices of cheese, and perhaps some yogurt, can provide most people with adequate amounts of calcium. It is possible to get too much of a good thing, though — consuming more than 2,500 mg per day of calcium is not recommended. However tempting it may be to snack on cheeses and other dairy products throughout the day, getting too much calcium can cause problems with absorbing other important minerals, so be sure to stay within your recommended range.

If you are unable to digest dairy products because of lactose intolerance or another digestive issue, you may be able to get calcium from supplements or other food sources. Still, Landon says dairy products remain the best source of calcium and recommends yogurt as an option for those who are lactose intolerant: “Yogurt has enzymes that break up the lactose, so most people can tolerate yogurt without problems. Also, people who are lactose intolerant can try drinking milk or eating cheese with meals to lessen symptoms. There are also many lactose-free milks on the market,” says Landon.

Calcium’s Helper: Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in the process of bone building. Without it, your body cannot get calcium from the foods you eat. Most adults need at least 400 IU of vitamin D each day; those who do not get enough vitamin D are at increased risk for osteoporosis. “To really get enough vitamin D naturally, you need to spend about 15 minutes [without sunscreen] in the sun each day,” says Sandon. “Food is a very poor source of vitamin D.” That said, eggs, saltwater fish like cod and mackerel, and fortified milk are some dietary sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements may be particularly useful for people who are homebound or live in areas where there is less sunlight.

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
Variety in your diet is also important for bone health. A study of 171 adults showed that those whose diets were more alkaline, which results from eating many different types of fruits and vegetables, retained more calcium.

For good bone health, simple changes such as eating more dairy for calcium, getting 15 minutes of sunlight daily, and eating your veggies can effectively help to protect you from osteoporosis.

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