Strong Bones

This is something I touch on in my nutrition and supplement information evenings because it is so strongly related to that topic. We have over 200 bones in our body and they are so much more than just a protective and supportive framework for our body. They actually are really important store for crucial nutrients, minerals and lipids and they produce red and white blood cells in the marrow.

Did you know that bones aren’t just made of calcium? They also contain sodium, phosphorus and other minerals but their primary constituent is collagen! Yep that’s not just something that makes our skin look nice and helps our joint movements. Collagen is the main protein found in bones. It contains the amino acids glycine, proline and lysine, which help build bone, muscle, ligaments and other tissues.

When we have too little calcium in our blood, our body tends to borrow it from our bones – it ultimately plans to return what it has borrowed but for that we need to give it to our body in the first place.

Poor bone health can cause conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis and increase the risk of breaking a bone from a fall later in life.

So how do we keep them healthy? We need an array of vitamins and minerals for healthy bones (and teeth actually) – vitamins C, D and K, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to promote the formation of new bone and protect against bone loss in older adults.

Plenty of exercise also contributes to healthy bones. Like muscles, bones become stronger with exercise. The best exercises for healthy bones are strength-building and weight-bearing, like walking, climbing stairs, lifting weights, and dancing.

If you smoke – stop it! It can stop your body from using the calcium in your diet, and women who smoke go through menopause earlier than those who don’t smoke. Women in the menopause suffer from bone loss (has to do with the non-production of oestrogen). So if you start it earlier your body has more time to lose bones. Not a good thing…

Excessive alcohol consumption as well as caffeine are also not good for your bones. But then they aren’t good for the rest of your body either. In this case moderation is the key. Two cups of coffee a day and one or two units of alcohol are fine. Beer actually contains silicon, some B vitamins, and polyphenols, all of which might protect bones. My friend Maike will be very happy to hear that…

Your protein intake is also important when it comes to healthy bones. There is actually quite a bit of protein in your bones it needs it to keep them strong. Protein from animal sources is best here, but if you are a vegetarian that’s not the end of the world. Protein from vegetable sources is also beneficial.

But calcium of course is the big one. Calcium is the main mineral found in bones and must be consumed every day to protect bone health. Spreading your calcium intake throughout the day will optimise absorption. And to be able to absorb calcium we need vitamin D. Most of us are getting enough calcium through our diet but not enough vitamin D. Have a read at my blog called – are you D-Ficient which goes into more detail on vitamin D, where to find it and if we should be supplementing.

Adults need 700mg of calcium a day and we should be having less than 1500mg a day. You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese and other dairy foods , green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra (but not spinach ), soya beans, tofu and nuts. Although spinach might appear to contain a lot of calcium, it also contains oxalic acid, which reduces calcium absorption, and it is therefore not a good source of calcium.

If you are a vegan you  really need to watch your calcium intake as most of us get it from dairy products. Then it might be worth considering to supplement. Women in the menopause might also consider a supplement. We have our Forever Calcium, which contains vitamin D as well as calcium. If you are a vegan – the vitamin D in this supplement is derived from sheep’s wool but apart from that there are no other animal products in it.

Well I hope you found that interesting. I certainly learned something new writing this! 🙂

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