Build Bones Over a Lifetime
Nov 1, 2011 Posted by: Dr. Sara Henderson ND
A typical adult human skeleton consists of 206 bones. Bones are made up of cells, nerves, blood vessels and minerals. Bones are crucial when it comes to movement and protection of vital organs. Proper development and maintenance of the skeletal system is essential to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease, affecting 200 million women worldwide. It is characterized by the deterioration of bone mass and matrix, leading to fragility and an increase in the risk of hip, wrist or spinal fracture. If peak bone mass is above normal levels, bone loss during menopause and with aging will not result in negative consequences.
Strategies used to prevent or treat the disease are aimed at slowing down bone breakdown and providing nutrients necessary to support the matrix and bone formation. Conventional solutions target bone remodeling and include bisphosphonate drugs and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). These options do not support overall bone quality and are associated with negative side effects and health risks.
Osteoporosis Canada recommends that children and adults obtain 1000-1300 mg of dietary or supplemental calcium per day. Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption.
As a practicing naturopath, I recommend that my patients eat a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and vegetable protein over their lifetime to build optimal bone mass and prevent osteoporosis. Calcium is essential for bone formation and is found in the following foods: cheese, milk, yogurt, tofu, almonds and leafy greens. Osteoporosis Canada recommends that children and adults obtain 1000-1300 mg of dietary or supplemental calcium per day. Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. Foods rich in vitamin D include: fatty fish, eggs, sunflower seeds and fortified milk. Health Canada advises that children and adults consume 400-800 IU of dietary or supplemental vitamin D daily, with an upper tolerable intake of 4000 IU.
Magnesium is also required for proper calcium metabolism. Foods rich in this mineral include: wheat bran, nuts and leafy greens. Research supports that vitamin K can significantly reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, especially when used in conjunction with calcium and vitamin D. Roughly 80% of our dietary vitamin K1 comes from vegetables. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods (sauerkraut, cheese and natto), and is produced by good intestinal bacteria.
Your bones are only as strong as they need to be. I encourage my patients to practice weight bearing activities daily to promote healthy bones.
Your bones are only as strong as they need to be. I encourage my patients to practice weight bearing activities daily to promote healthy bones. Have fun and build bones with tai chi, yoga, brisk walking, dancing, golfing and swimming. Studies show that physical activity can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, fracture, and fall-related injuries.
To further reduce the risk of poor bone health avoid: smoking, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, processed foods, excess sodium and soda.
Considering that individual needs differ, I advise you to consult your health care practitioner to further discuss dietary and lifestyle modification, and to review risk versus benefit ratio of medication and nutritional supplementation.