Best Foods for Strong and Healthy Bones
The great news is that if you eat a balanced, healthy and highly varied diet you can all but forget about the health of your bones. Foods good for bone health include fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, dairy products are high in calcium, meat will provide you with plenty of B vitamins and if you also get out and about in the sunshine and you’ll get all the vitamin D that you need.
The bad news is that not all of us have a healthy diet and overcooking foods can destroy important vitamins. If you live in an areas where the weather is poor in winter (on in Britain where the weather is poor in summer as well) you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin on exposure to direct sunlight, but if it is always cloudy where you live you may not be getting enough sunshine, and if you are always working indoors you may similarly be at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. Other vitamins you will need to get from dietary sources, but before we get onto foods good for bone health, we need to cover two important factors which can affect your vitamin and mineral needs and in some cases can lead to serious vitamin depletion. If you smoke or drink you need to be particularly attentive to the foods you consume if you want to ensure that your bones stay healthy and you get sufficient vitamins and minerals to meet your daily needs.
Vitamins, Minerals and Cigarette Smoking
Some lifestyle decisions can have a big impact on the health of your bones. If you are a smoker, you will be destroying valuable B vitamins and vitamin C with every puff that you take and you will have more difficulty absorbing vitamins from the intestines. It’s not just vitamins that cigarettes will destroy, and they can play havoc with your mineral balance as well. Smoking tends to lead to magnesium deficiencies by increasing cholesterol levels in the blood. Magnesium also works in tandem with calcium, and if your magnesium levels fall this can affect your calcium levels, and both of these minerals are essential for the formation and maintenance of strong and healthy bones
Vitamins, Minerals and Alcohol
It’s not just smoking which can have a profound effect on your vitamin and mineral levels, and alcohol too can deplete your vitamin stores and the damage that it can cause can increase the need for dietary minerals and vitamins. If you consume a lot of alcoholic beverages you will be getting a large proportion of your daily calories from what you drink. You are likely to put on weight, but you will also run the risk of not getting sufficient nutrition by eating less to compensate. Alcohol can cause a depletion of vitamin B levels as it flushes them out of your system, and it has even been strongly linked to vitamin D deficiencies, which is certainly bad news for your bones. As alcohol damages your liver, you will also need increased vitamins and minerals to repair the damage. It is also important to remember that many of the broken bones treated in emergency rooms up and down the country are caused as a direct result of alcohol intoxication.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
The natural choice for many Americans is not to run the risk of vitamin deficiencies and to take vitamins as supplements. It can be highly beneficial to take multivitamin tablets, or specific minerals for bone health to help prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D supplements can be important as few foods contain this important vitamin. At face value taking vitamin supplements may appear to be an ideal solution; however you should bear in mind that the quantities of vitamins and minerals contained in many supplements are well over and above what you need on a daily basis. The body cannot absorb such concentrated doses, and most of what you take will be excreted by the body.
You should also bear in mind that excessive vitamin intake can cause more damage to the body than it is likely to correct. It is possible to overdose on vitamins and minerals. Multivitamins should be fine, but take more than the recommended dose and your healthy lifestyle choice may not be quite so healthy. As for minerals, care should be taken as many may be toxic in large doses. Selenium is an element which is important for bone health, yet if your intake is excessive it can be very bad for the health and can lead to hair loss and nerve damage. Vitamin A in excess can caused blurred vision and dizziness, vitamin C causes nausea and stomach cramps in excess. It is highly unlikely that you will suffer from a vitamin or mineral overdose from your diet or even if you take a daily multivitamin, but some of the massive doses contained in vitamin supplements can potentially spell trouble.
Boost Your Vitamin and Mineral Levels Naturally
You can take vitamin supplements to increase your intake on a regular basis, but nothing beats getting sufficient quantities from your diet. When you eat a healthy and balance diet, you will get everything you need from the food you eat. Most importantly you will also get your dose of vitamins and minerals in levels which the body is easily able to deal with, and you will end up using more and excreting less. However what is a balanced diet? What foods are good for bone health and what foods will have maximum benefit for your body? If you want strong and healthy bones and want to decrease the risk of stress fractures, osteopenia and osteoporosis you should consider adding the following foods to your diet.
Avoidance of Certain Foods May be Bad for Your Bones
Giving up meat may be good for your conscience, but is it going to be good for your bones? Meat is one of the main sources of B vitamins, in particular vitamin B12 which is vital for bone health. If you are a vegan or vegetarian this does not mean that you need to start eating mean, just that you need to be especially careful that you are getting enough of this vitamin. It is water soluble too, so cannot be stored in the body, so a daily intake is necessary.
If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you need to consider how much calcium you are getting. Dairy products are the main sources of dietary calcium, so this will need to come from somewhere else. Calcium supplements may be the answer; however consider eating lactose-free yoghurts , cheese and milk, or foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds and quinoa which are all high in calcium.
If you try to eat a balanced diet and include more of the following foodstuffs in your diet your bones will be certain to thank you for it in later life.
Milk, Cheese &Yoghurt
Cutting back on dairy products to concentrate on the body beautiful may have a serious effect on your skeleton, as they are the main source of dietary calcium. When it comes to increasing your intake of dietary calcium you really can’t go wrong with dairy products. Milk, yoghurt and cheese are all excellent sources of calcium which is vital for maintaining healthy and strong bones. With the rise in lactose intolerance has come a swathe of dairy products which are free from lactose, which still offer the all important calcium. However hard cheeses are relatively low in lactose and consumed in moderation should be fine. Vegans who avoid all dairy products will need to get their calcium from other dietary sources. If you are watching your weight and want to cut back on dairy products, try to include some 0% fat yoghurts and skimmed milk and you will get plenty of calcium without piling on the pounds.
Many people do not eat nearly enough fish which is an excellent protein source and an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have been shown to be highly beneficial for the health in general, and research indicates they can be particularly good for the bones. If you are not a lover of fish you should consider taking fish oil supplements, which are particularly beneficial for helping to reduce bone loss. Oily fish can be a great source of calcium and an ideal dietary source for the lactose intolerant who are forced to avoid the main sources of dietary calcium. Oily fish include anchovies, herring, sardines, mackerel, pilchards and salmon.
If you are concerned about your fat intake you should be fine with oily fish. Rather than saturated fats, oily fish contain mostly mono and polyunsaturated fats which can be highly beneficial to help prevent blood clots from forming. Oily fish will also give you a healthy dose of two other minerals essential for good bone health; selenium and phosphorus.
It doesn’t end there, as the vitamin content of fish is also particularly high. You will get a healthy dose of vitamin A from oily fish as well as vitamin B12 and even vitamin D; three vital vitamins for strong and healthy bones. If there is one food source which is great for your bones it has to be oily fish.
There is no argument that green vegetables are good for you, but they are particularly important for good bone health. Cabbage contains boron which can help to reduce the excretion of calcium and magnesium from the urine. Green vegetables are also a great source of vitamin K and a non dairy source of calcium. Green leafy vegetables are also high in manganese, which is believed to help prevent osteoporosis.
Reduce your Salt Intake
Excessive salt intake is undoubtedly bad for your health and has potential to send your blood pressure through the roof. However salt is also believed to have a negative effect on bone health, as it can induce a state of calciuria – excretion of calcium in the urine. Salt intake is a risk factor in the development of osteoporosis and has been shown to affect both calcium absorption and calcium metabolism.
If you are a vegan eating soy products is highly beneficial as they are high in calcium and they can make up for a lack of dairy products in your diet. Calcium enriched tofu is a great addition to the diet and not just for vegetarians. Tofu can provide as much calcium as is present in a pint and a half of milk. Soy products contain other products which are reported to be highly beneficial for bone health. Isoflavines present in soy and other plants can have an important role in the maintenance of strong and healthy bones, and may be beneficial in helping to reduce the chances of developing bone diseases in the future.
Eating breakfast cereals will do wonders for your bowels thanks to the high fiber content, but what is particularly beneficial for the health of your bones are the vitamins and minerals used to improve nutritional content. Many cereals are enriched with important B vitamins, in particular for good bone health most contain vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. They also contain good levels of calcium, and have them with milk and you are well on your way to getting your full RDA of this important mineral.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of potassium which plays a role in the control of calcium excretion. Potassium helps to keep metabolic acids in check which can eat away bone. Not only is potassium important for protecting bone, but by neutralizing these acids it helps to conserve calcium levels, and can also reduce calcium excretion through the urine. Potassium is present in high quantities in fruit and fresh vegetables. Nuts and seeds also contain high quantities of omega 3 fatty acids such as alpha linolenic acid; especially walnuts and flaxseed. Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce the breakdown of bone, but are also beneficial for improving bone density; something especially important for post menopause women.