We are encouraged via television and print ads to get more calcium into our bodies by consuming more milk, yogurt and cheese (goat or sheep products are better for you) in order to build healthy bones. But it takes a lot more than calcium to build healthy bones! Let’s not forget that greens like broccoli, chard, watercress and spinach and beans, nuts, seeds and grains are also great sources of calcium and other nutrients that are important for bone health.
Recent studies have cast doubt on the idea that dairy products help protect our bones from calcium loss. In fact, dairy foods may be a contributing factor in bone loss. A little shocking isn’t it? Scientific research shows excessive calcium intake can cause milk alkali syndrome.
Let's Make Healthy Bones
If you want to improve your bone health and increase your bone density, make sure your diet and lifestyle include the following:
- Exercise on a regular basis, particularly weight-bearing exercises.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid soft drinks.
- Reduce your sodium intake. Sodium leaches calcium from bones.
- Limit your intake of animal proteins; they can promote bone loss.
- Make sure your daily intake of the following minerals and vitamins meets your recomended daily intake. It's always best to get your nutrients from food sources first and supplements second.
- Calcium - 1300 mg’s to 2000 mg’s.
- Magnesium - 650 mg’s. (No more than 350 mg’s from supplements.)
- Boron - 10 to 20 mg’s.
- Strontium - (strontium citrate has the highest absorption rate.) 680 mg’s.
- Zinc - 11 mg’s to 40 mg’s. (If you take zinc supplements, makes sure they include copper.)
- Vitamin A - 700 to 900 mcg’s (only take vitamin A supplements under a health care provider's supervision). Vitamin A obtained from foods are much safer than supplements. A medium (2 in x 5 in) baked sweet potato has 262% of your daily vitamin A requirements; 1 cup of carrots has 686%.
- Vitamin C - 90 mg’s to 2000 mg’s. Found in abundance in many fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin D3 - 10 mcg’s to 50 mcg’s. Sunshine is your best source!
- Vitamin K- 120 mcg’s, is found in abundance in leafy greens
It seems one of the really important links in bone health that is overlooked is the mineral strontium. Strontium is like calcium in structure, however, it's a denser and heavier mineral and acts much like calcium in our bones. Another critical mineral is magnesium. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium, which is critical in calcium absorption, keeping calcium from being deposited into soft tissues causing damage to organs such as the heart and kidneys.
It's best to get these nutrients as they occur naturally in foods. Many foods today are fortified with calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin D. Over consumption of calcium and Vitamin A from supplements can sometimes cause serious health consequences. Calcium is of particular concern because it is the primary ingredient in anti-acids and is heavily fortified in many processed foods. The excessive intake of calcium can cause magnesium deficiency and milk alkali syndrome.
Include a wide variety of foods in your diet, particularly foods from vegetative sources for optimal health.