Osteoporosis is a condition marked by the loss of skeletal bone and it’s a major health risk for women as they age. In fact, one in three women over 50 suffer from fractures related to this disease. Bone isn’t just a solid hunk of calcium. It’s living, growing tissue with a soft core and a hard framework of calcium phosphate. Because bone is alive, it’s constantly breaking down its old framework and replacing it with new material. Until you’re about 30, you make bone faster than it is destroyed. But after that, the process slowly reverses, causing a net bone loss. If the loss becomes severe, bones lose density, becoming more porous and fragile. When bones become porous enough, they are more vulnerable to fractures, even under the normal conditions of everyday living. Fortunately, you can help prevent this fate and it’s never too early to get started!
Drinking too much coffee or soda can rob your body of the calcium bones need to stay strong. Instead, add more calcium-rich beverages like milk, kefir, and fortified orange juice. Choose foods like sardines, salmon, turnips, and dark leafy greens. Soy foods like tofu and soy milk can also boost bone health by suppressing bone resorption, stimulating bone formation, and reducing the risk of fracture by up to 35 percent. Pomegranate may also have a similar effect. One study of osteoporosis done on animals showed pomegranate increased bone density and helped support mood.
Just like muscles, bones need exercise to stay healthy. Weight-bearing exercises (such as walking, jogging, and dancing) help prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis by putting stress on the bones. Strength-training with weights or resistance bands is also beneficial since it increases the tug of muscles on the bones. As a bonus, pumping a little iron will also add definition to your body and help counteract at least some of the effects of gravity as you age.
Calcium: is a staple when it comes to bone health, which isn’t surprising since 99 percent of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones. A research review published in the journal Nutrients reported that adults who upped their intake of calcium and vitamin D increased bone mineral density and reduce the risk for hip fracture significantly. Typical dosage: 600 mg twice a day.
Magnesium: is critical for the proper absorption of calcium by bones. A lack of this important mineral can lower the body’s production of vitamin D and decrease the activity of bone-forming cells. Typical dosage: 400-800 mg of supplemental magnesium every day, taken in divided doses.
Vitamin D: plays a key role in bone healthy by helping to shuttle calcium into the bones. Typical dosage: The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 800 IU per day, however a growing number of researchers and physicians suggest that taking 1,500 to 2,000 IU daily may be more beneficial.
Vitamin K: is a fat-soluble vitamin that modulates the proteins involved in bone formation. Studies have linked a higher intake of vitamin K to fewer fractures. Typical dosage: If your bones are generally healthy, take 100 mcg daily for prevention. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, boost the amount to 1,000 mcg per day. Whichever dose is right for you, make sure to take it with a meal containing some fat to enhance absorption. Research from the Netherlands suggests that vitamin K2 may be almost three times more effective than vitamin K1 for supporting bone health. Please note vitamin K should not be taken if you are taking anti-coagulant medications (known as “blood thinners”).