Nutrition and Bone Health
In keeping with this month’s theme of “strength,” here are some key nutrients that help support strong bones.
Ask most people what nutrients are needed to support bone health, and they’ll likely say calcium and Vitamin D. And they would be right, of course, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body (most of it is socked away in our bones and teeth) and Vitamin D is critically important in helping the body absorb calcium. But many other nutrients play an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy.
Nutrients for Healthy Bones
Bone is a living, growing tissue made up of a collagen – a protein that forms a soft framework for bone – and a mineral component called hydroxyapatite (made primarily of calcium and phosphorus) that is deposited in this framework to give bones strength and hardness. In addition to protein, calcium and phosphorus, there are other nutrients that help support bone health. Here are some key bone-building nutrients and where to find them:
Calcium makes up about 2% of your total body weight, and most of it is stored in your skeleton.
Where to find it: Milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.), almonds, green leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body and combines with calcium to form the crystalline structure of bone.
Where to find it: Phosphorus is in many different foods, and most people get plenty in the diet. Major sources include milk, fish, poultry, meat, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the digestive tract.
Where to find it: Fatty fish, liver, some fortified foods. Many people don’t consume enough Vitamin D, however, and may benefit from supplementation.
Magnesium stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to move calcium from the bloodstream into the bones. Magnesium is also needed to convert Vitamin D into its active form, which, in turn, supports calcium absorption.
Where to find it: Green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Potassium helps to maintain calcium balance in the body and helps to reduce losses of calcium in the urine.
Where to find it: Melons, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, oranges, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans.
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein matrix of bone tissue.
Where to find it: Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwifruit, peppers, green leafy veggies.
Boron is a mineral that supports the body’s use of other bone-building nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and Vitamin D.
Where to find it: Dried fruits (prunes, raisins, dried apricots), peanut butter and avocados.
Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
*Results may very from person to person