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by DietWrite,'s Diet and Fitness News Reporter

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by Shauna Schultz, Registered Dietitian

What kind of steps are you already taking towards better health? What else can you do? How about taking a look at your bone health? Are you taking measures that promote bone health?

bonesDiet plays a very important role in bone health. Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for bone health and according to the USDA, 75% of Americans are not getting enough calcium each day. Let's take a look at how you can help improve the health of your bones " all 206 of them!

Healthy Bones 101

  • Bone is constantly being broken down and rebuilt with calcium and other nutrients being added to help strengthen bones. Childhood through young adulthood are critical periods for building and determining peak bone mass. This is when bone formation is greater than bone loss.

  • At about age 30, bone is broken down faster than it can be rebuilt making adequate calcium intake and regular physical activity very important to help maintain bone mass.

  • Bone is vital to our mobility and structure, protects our organs and stores calcium which helps maintain calcium levels in the blood.

  • Bone strength can vary between individuals. Some ethnicities have stronger bones than others, men generally have greater bone mass than women, bone mass decreases with age and heavier people tend to have stronger bones than smaller, thin people.

  • Regular physical activity, especially weight bearing activities such as strength training, walking, running and aerobics, can help promote bone health by reducing bone loss and protecting peak bone mass.

  • Other factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse and some medications can adversely affect bone health.

  • Healthy Diet = Healthy Bones

  • Diet plays a very important role in building and maintaining bone.

  • Most of us know that Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for healthy bones. But did you know that phosphorus, Vitamin K and magnesium also play a role in healthy bones?

  • Eating regular, balanced meals will help your bones as well as your weight loss goals! Skipping meals can mean skimping on important nutrients.

  • A calcium supplement and/or multi-vitamin may be warranted if your diet is sub-optimal or for general “insurance”. You can post what you are eating in the Rate My Plate board anytime for feedback and guidance!

    Step Up to Healthy Bones!

    Use this handy list to add the following foods to your diet and help keep your bones strong and healthy.

  • Calcium: low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), kale, broccoli, tofu (set in calcium), fortified soy milk, calcium-fortified foods, corn tortillas, kidney beans, canned salmon with bones, almonds, blackstrap molasses.

  • Vitamin D: fortified milk and yogurt (choose low-fat varieties), fatty fish, sunlight (your body makes Vitamin D from sunlight).

  • Phosphorus: lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, milk.

  • Vitamin K: leafy green veggies, margarine, vegetable oils.

  • Magnesium: whole grains, seeds and nuts, beans and dried peas, dark green veggies.

  • Boost Your Daily Calcium Intake

    Add a little calcium to each of your meals with these easy ideas!

    Breakfast: Steam 1% or non-fat milk and add a little coffee. Now you have your own homemade Café Au Lait!

    Lunch: Try a spinach salad with kidney beans, part-skim mozzarella and sliced almonds.

    Snack: Enjoy your favorite flavor of light non-fat yogurt with a few dried figs.

    Dinner: Add some steamed broccoli to your favorite tofu stir-fry.

    After-Dinner Treat: warm up with a steaming mug of low-calorie hot cocoa made with non-fat milk or fortified low-fat vanilla soy milk!

    Bone appetit!

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