Osteoporosis is becoming an increasingly dangerous public health concern that requires us to address it on several different levels. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, over 44 million Americans are threatened by osteoporosis, and 55% of individuals over the age of 50 are likely to be affected by the disease. One in six women will experience a hip fracture at some point in their lives, as compared to one in nine who will develop breast cancer.
Of the factors at work behind the prevalence of osteoporosis, poor nutrition is one of the worst culprits. In addition to consistent weight-bearing exercise and supplements as needed, eating well to build bone density can help prevent osteoporosis. While most bone density is built before age 20, it’s still important to keep consuming key vitamins to prevent your body from leaching nutrients from your bones. To help prevent osteoporosis and to address the widespread issue of low bone density, you can incorporate foods and beverages rich in calcium and vitamins D and K into your diet.
You need to consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium every day in order to keep your bones strong and dense enough to prevent fractures and breaks. You can do this by consuming calcium-fortified products, such as dry cereals, orange juice and soy milk; or you can eat foods that are naturally rich in calcium. Some examples include yogurt, cheddar cheese, sardines or salmon with bones, tofu made with calcium sulfate, milk, frozen yogurt, and more. By eating one or more of these items at each meal, you can easily obtain your recommended daily value of calcium. For example, you could have calcium-fortified cereal with yogurt for breakfast, a salmon Caesar salad for lunch, and pizza topped with tofu and sardines for dinner. You can check out the NIH Calcium Factsheet for even more calcium-rich foods.
According to the NIH Vitamin D Factsheet, you should consume 400-600 IUs of vitamin D each day, a commitment that can be upheld by taking a good multivitamin and by eating foods rich in vitamin D. Cod liver oil, salmon and many other types of fish, liver, milk, yogurt, Swiss cheese, eggs, and many other foods are great sources of vitamin D. Note that many of the same foods are rich in calcium, so it’s even easier than you thought to help prevent osteoporosis by altering your diet. Just by eating a three-ounce serving of salmon, you’ll be getting nearly 200% of your daily recommended vitamin D plus about 18% of your calcium.
Consuming 70 to 80 micrograms of vitamin K each day can also help you to build bone density. Vitamin K assists in your body’s absorption of calcium, and three vitamin K-dependent proteins have been isolated in bone. It’s easy to keep your vitamin K levels up with these foods, each of which provides over 200% of your recommended daily value: kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, Swiss chard, parsley, and mustard greens. These items are especially rich in vitamin K, but essentially, any type of leafy green will help you get your daily percentage and stop osteoporosis before it affects you. Making a simple spinach and parsley salad or boiling some Swiss chard with freshly squeezed orange juice could be all your body needs to maintain bone health, so don’t miss your daily opportunities to prevent the loss of bone density.
Creative Commons photo by joyosity