Healthy Bones Action Week is underway across Australia, and Dairy Australia is encouraging everyone to make small lifestyle changes that protect bone health. Indicators of overall bone health are factors like bone mineral density and bone mass.
One of the best-known ways of maintaining high bone density is to have an adequate calcium intake. But how much calcium do you need?
The Australian dietary guidelines recommend adults consume 1000mg of calcium each day. This recommendation increases to 1300mg for those over 70, who are more at risk for osteoporosis and bone fracture.
Foods for bone health
Eating dairy isn’t the only way to maintain healthy bone mass, although dairy foods are one of the best sources of calcium you can get. Other great foods for bone health are leafy greens, soya beans, nuts, flour and fish.
Fish with edible bones, such as sardines and anchovies, contain high calcium levels. And mackerel and salmon are high in omega-3 and fatty acids. Getting enough vitamin D through diet or sun exposure also helps the body absorb calcium.
Collagens are the proteins that keep our bones, skin and joints strong and healthy. It is important to make sure we are getting sufficient nutrition to allow the body to repair and produce collagen. There are also plant sources of many of the amino acids that the body needs to make collagen. Mushrooms have similar proteins to collagens and soy is also a good protein source.
What foods are not recommended?
Spinach, although high in calcium, contains a compound called oxalate. Oxalate binds to calcium, preventing the molecules from being absorbed. As well as not improving bone health, oxalate-calcium compounds can cause kidney stones.
Other foods that contain high oxalate levels are rhubarb and sweet potatoes.
Too much sodium can reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium, so it’s wise to not consume too much salty food, Excess protein can have a similar effect, although most people eat too little, rather than too much.
Drinks that contain phosphoric acid have been shown to reduce bone density. Cola’s commonly use phosphoric acid as do some other soft drinks.
Does drinking water affect bone mass?
Studies have found a strong connection between minerals in drinking water and bone quality. Depending on the minerals in your tap water, it may be a good source of calcium.
These findings also imply that using a water softener, which replaces these minerals with salt, may not be ideal for anyone at risk of osteoporosis. If you live in an area with low mineral levels in your tap water, you may want to take other measures to increase your bone density.
Who is at risk of osteoporosis?
Low bone density can increase your risk of osteoporosis, fracture and other bone-related ailments. So, any environmental or biological factors that decrease your bone density are likely to be risk factors for osteoporosis.
Risk factors include:
- Older age
- White or Asian ethnicity
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Low testosterone (men) or oestrogen (women)
- Steroid use
- Disordered eating or low body weight
- Smoking and alcohol use
- Family history
Preventing bone fracture
While bone breakage isn’t always associated with poor bone health, maintaining healthy bones makes fracture less likely. Having a higher bone mass can make your bones more resilient if you do have an accident.
Taking vitamins for bone health is an effective way to avoid serious injury. Dietary fat levels are also important for keeping bones healthy. You might be surprised that a low-fat diet is equally as much of a risk factor for bone fracture as a high-fat diet.
Regular exercise promotes bone density by placing the joints and tissue under stress. As muscles grow from lifting weights, bones do too. The best exercise regime for anyone looking to keep their bones healthy is a resistance-based one.
How to keep your bones healthy
Optimal calcium intake is critical for keeping your bone density in a healthy range. Eating enough of the right stuff every day can be difficult. If you struggle to balance a busy lifestyle with a bone-healthy diet, you might find supplementation beneficial.
NutriKane J is specially formulated to support healthy bones and is developed and tested in Australia. As well as healthy joints and bones, NutriKane’s collagen properties promote healthy, smooth and youthful skin, and help fight musculoskeletal and skin diseases.