Bone Health : Key Nutrients for Bone Health

Did you know that two million broken bones occur every year in the U.S. due to osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones? Most people get their fracture repaired without ever realizing they have osteoporosis or low bone mass.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 43 million have low bone density, placing them at increased risk. Although physiological, nutritional, and hormonal differences between men and women put women at a higher risk for osteoporosis, men also suffer from bone loss -- in fact, one in four men between the ages of 50 and 75 show signs of some degree of low bone mass.

May is National Osteoporosis Month, and it's the perfect time to bone up on bone health. There is no cure for osteoporosis, but there are steps you can take to slow or stop its progress. Diet is key to preventing and managing osteoporosis.

The strength of our bones relies on a steady stream of nutrients, most importantly calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is required to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium must be obtained through diet, and if we don't have enough, the body uses calcium from the bones to carry out its necessary functions.

Milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli, salmon, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium. It can be difficult to obtain all the calcium we need through diet alone, particularly for people who are lactose intolerant or vegans who don't eat dairy, making a supplement essential. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends adults ages 19 to 49 get 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and 1,200 mg for anyone over 50.

Vitamin D is critical to bone health. Without vitamin D, the body cannot effectively absorb calcium. Inadequate vitamin D can cause bones to become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Some foods contain vitamin D, but few contain enough to meet the daily recommended levels for optimal bone health.

Sensible sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D, but most experts recommend a supplement for both adults and children. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults ages 19 to 70 is 600 IU of vitamin D daily. After age 70, the RDA goes up to 800 IU.

Calcium and vitamin D are the major players in bone health, but the correct balance of magnesium, boron, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C, E, and K all play vital roles in preventing osteoporosis. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about bone health, and look for a supplement specifically formulated for bone health at your local natural market. The trained staff can answer any questions and help you find a product that's right for you.
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