For most of us, aging is accompanied by some unique health challenges. One of these challenges is bone health, and the need to pay attention to our bones begins much sooner than most of us realize. The medical community tells us that we’ve reached peak bone health by the age of 30. After that point, bone density begins to decrease and we’re at a greater risk of breaks, fractures and osteoporosis.
Fortunately, you don’t have to accept this fate. There are things you can do that will keep your bones strong and healthy – with proper nutrition being one of the most powerful natural medicines for osteoporosis prevention. Here is what you need to know about using nutrition to keep bones strong as you age.
Calcium and Vitamin D – the Dynamic Duo for Bone Health
Calcium is one of the primary minerals found in bones, and keeping up on calcium intake is important for keeping them strong. Current recommendations are that women over the age of 51 consume 1,200 mg of daily and men consume 1,000 mg daily until they reach the age of 71, when their recommended intake also increases to 1,200 mg.
Many of us have been told all our lives to drink milk and eat dairy foods that are rich in calcium to keep our bones strong. Low fat dairy foods are a good source of calcium, but they’re not the only source. Calcium can also be found abundantly in plant based foods like black strap molasses, fortified orange juice, turnip greens and figs.
The only downside to calcium is that it needs a little help to work effectively. This help comes in the form of vitamin D. You’ll find that foods that are fortified with calcium are also frequently fortified with vitamin D to boost calcium absorption.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get the vitamin D you need from fortified food sources alone. One way to increase your vitamin D is by spending 15-20 minutes outside every day. If you can’t get outside, don’t worry – sitting by a nice, sunny window also does the trick.
Eating a Rainbow for Bone Health
Calcium isn’t the only nutrient that matters for bone health. The most effective way to protect your bones is by eating a nutritious diet that contains a range of colorful produce and lean proteins.
Vegetables like spinach, beets and sweet potatoes are rich in magnesium and other dark leafy greens contain the vitamin K your bones need. You’ll also want to get plenty of vitamin C, which can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
There are also foods and beverages that should be avoided because they inhibit calcium absorption. Stay away from excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, including coffee and sodas. Stick to one drink a day and don’t combine with dietary sources of calcium.
Staying Healthy and Active
Keeping the focus on health and nutrition as we age is important for living a long, vibrant and active life. At Lexington Square we offer a senior living community where nutrition and quality of lifestyle are top priorities. Contact Lexington Square today to learn more about our assisted living community.