There are 206 bones in our body, but how strong and strong are they? When we talk about well–being, skeletal health is the last thing we remember.
We talk endlessly about the skin and its condition, aging processes, devote a lot of time to intestinal microflora, muscle training, heart and vascular health. But the basis of all this is the skeleton, it is he who carries the load of the whole body and maintains posture throughout life.
The bones of the skeleton accumulate strength and strength up to 25 years, and after 30 they gradually begin to lose their strength if they do not constantly maintain physical activity and the balance of necessary minerals – calcium, magnesium, phosphorus.
Why is it important to remember about bone health?
Bone health is no less important than the health of any other body organs, especially for women, since bone density decreases after menopause. In women, osteoporosis occurs in almost 50% of cases. Loss of bone density can lead to osteoporosis, which, in turn, threatens fractures at the slightest exertion, thereby reducing mobility. Men also suffer from osteoporosis, but much less often (only about 4% of the population) and at a later age – about 70 years.
What is the danger of this disease? Bones with it become porous and brittle, therefore, compression (compression) or sharp impacts (during falls, awkward movements) can lead to fractures. The vertebrae, femoral neck and humerus are most often affected.
As with all other diseases, prevention is the basis of the fight against osteoporosis. It is important to pay attention to the health of your bones now, no matter how old you are. Bone strength is achieved through regular exercise (especially strength training in combination with aerobic exercise) and the inclusion of foods for strong bones in your diet.
What affects our bones?
To begin with, 80% of bone mass is determined by genetics, and the rest is influenced by environmental factors such as diet and exercise. Therefore, 20% of skeletal problems depend on what happens in childhood and adolescence. During the entire skeletal growth phase, it is extremely important to get enough calcium and vitamin D to build bone mass. Calcium is most actively deposited in the bones during this period. In the future, the bones are only remineralized, that is, they are updated, but they no longer grow.
Calcium alone is not enough for the strength of the skeleton. We also need vitamin D. Coming from food or forming in the skin after exposure to the sun, it undergoes a series of transformations in the body, but, ultimately, the active form of vitamin D binds to the vitamin D receptor in the intestine, and this is necessary for the absorption of calcium from the intestine into the blood.
What is important to know about the assimilation of minerals?
So, for bone health, not only sources of calcium in the diet are needed, but also vitamin D so that calcium can be absorbed. Meanwhile, it is important to avoid taking iron-containing supplements or even eating foods rich in iron together with calcium-containing foods, since iron and calcium interfere with each other’s assimilation.
In addition to calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are involved in the construction of bone tissue. They give bones strength and elasticity, form their porous structure. In order for bones to be both strong and elastic, the balance of these substances in the diet is important, and if food alone is not enough, you need to take supplements with calcium, magnesium and phosphates.
What foods can replenish calcium reserves, as well as provide a portion of the necessary vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus?
- Milk and various dairy products
Traditional cow’s milk (goat’s, mare’s, camel’s milk) is increasingly being replaced with vegetable alternatives (almonds, three nuts, soy, oats, banana, sesame, etc.) it is important to remember that calcium is contained and well absorbed only from real dairy products.
Moreover, in order for calcium to be fully absorbed, these products should not be with 0% fat content. Without fat, there will be no vitamin D, which means that calcium will not be fully absorbed by the body. Therefore, if you need to strengthen the bones of the skeleton and replenish calcium reserves – in addition to whole milk, which is not tolerated by all people, pay attention to Greek yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and kefir.
- Protein: but animal is better!
Experts recommend animal protein for patients with osteoporosis, as there is scientific evidence that high-protein diets are important for bone health. Experts recommend getting a dose of protein from sardines and anchovies, as they are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Steak will be a less useful, but still a good source of protein, since a high iron content can interfere with the absorption of calcium.
- Foods used in the Mediterranean diet
Studies have shown that women who followed this diet plan had a higher bone density. The Mediterranean diet includes: vegetables and fruits, fish, seafood, olive oil, cheese and yogurt, whole grains.
- Cruciferous vegetables
There is some evidence that the bone density of vegans is not as good as that of those who follow a “more balanced diet”, but more research is needed. There are plant foods that can also strengthen bones. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are rich in calcium. The fact that their consumption reduces the number of fractures in postmenopausal women is another reason to adopt new recipes with this group of vegetables.
- Vegetables rich in vitamin K
Cruciferous vegetables are not the only plant-based food options to support the strength of skeletal bones. Parsley, prunes, avocado and kiwi are sources of vitamin K, which works together with calcium to create strong bones.
- Mushrooms grown under the influence of ultraviolet light
Mushrooms exposed to sunlight or artificial UV light produce large amounts of vitamin D, which supports bone health. Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium in the body, and sufficient intake of it is important for bone health. But not all mushrooms are grown in such a way as to ensure the enrichment of the body with vitamin D.
What foods are rich in vitamin D?
Eggs, salmon, milk, yogurt, sardines and herring are foods that are good for the skeleton. And of course, while it’s summer, you need to be in the sun more often. However, vitamin D metabolism is a complex process, and even adequate intake, regular walks in the sun can lead to vitamin D deficiency. In this case, vitamin D and calcium supplements will come to the rescue.
How much in grams?
Adults should receive 1,000 mg of calcium and 200 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. If you are over 50 years old, take 1200 mg of calcium and 400-600 IU of vitamin D per day. Although calcium and vitamin D can be taken as supplements, it is best to get them through a natural diet.
The influence of alcohol
Alcohol lovers should think about the health of the skeleton. Alcoholic beverages are known to be harmful to bone health. Alcohol leaches calcium from the bones into the urine. This is true for those who drink more than 2 glasses of beer a day or more than 50 grams of strong alcohol.