At the end of the last post http://www.west4thphysio.com/uncategorized/osteoporosis/ I mentioned that we would look at what is available through exercise and diet to enable you to help prevent osteoporosis and osteopenia. They are both fairly large topics so today we’ll look at diet. Because bones are alive and able to respond to mechanical stress and strain, they can be strengthened. Of course they will only be able to rebuild if the right building materials are both present and readily able to be used.
Not enough calcium and vitamin D and too much caffeine, salt and alcohol are common dietary faults. While it’s true that osteoporosis does affect mainly older adults, it can strike at any age. It’s never too late – or too early – to implement nutritional strategies that can prevent bone loss and fractures. When I ask patients in the clinic what they need to help prevent osteoporosis, most know about calcium and “more exercise”. Calcium is needed to contract muscles, conduct nerve impulses, assist in blood clotting and secrete hormones. If you don’t have enough in your diet, the mineral will be moved from your bones to become available for these other functions. Adults under 50 need 1000 mg and over 50’s are recommended to take 1500mg. For reference, a cup (250 millilitres) of milk or fortified soy beverage, ¾cup (175 ml) plain yogurt or 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of cheese delivers roughly 300 milligrams of calcium. Other sources of calcium are almonds, broccoli, red kidney beans, chick peas, green beans, leafy greens, canned salmon (with bones) and tofu. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. It helps regulate the calcium levels in the bloodstream and aids in calcium uptake from the food you eat. In our northern climate we produce very little in the winter so add a supplement to your diet. Canadian bone health guidelines suggest 400 to 800 IU (international units) per day. Interestingly, as a side note, there has been a lot of press about Vitamin D lately and its link to cancer prevention. This has lead the Canadian Cancer society to increase its adult recommendation to 1000 IU’s daily, summer and winter.
Magnesium and Vitamin K are less well appreciated. Half of your body’s magnesium is found in your bones and older adults who consume more magnesium seem to show better bone density. Magnesium also helps regulate the body’s calcium level. Natural sources include wholegrain cereals and breads, almonds and soy/tofu. Vitamin K, found in leafy greens and milk, stimulates osteoclacin which also helps the production of bone.
For more diet information you can visit these sites. http://www.healthandbone.ca and dietitian Leslie Beck’s 2007 article in the Globe and Mail has more detailed info. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/article797306.ece
In the next post I’ll review what we know about exercise as a contributor to bone health.