Although bone loss is a problem most of us associate with old age, the typical diet and lifestyle of many Americans leads to bone degeneration at an early age—meaning it’s never to early to think about keeping your bones healthy!
Bones require certain vitamins and minerals to keep them in top shape.
Calcium: Everyone knows you need calcium for strong bones. Most doctors will recommend 1,000 mg of calcium a day for adults, 1,300 mg for teens and older kids, and 1,200 mg a day for women older than 50 and men older than 70. The bigger issue with calcium is absorption. As we become older, our body absorbs calcium less readily. Calcium citrate or ascrobate is easier to absorb than calcium carbonate, so check the labels on your supplements. Taking calcium in smaller doses, such as 400 or 500 mg at a time, throughout the day, or with a vitamin D supplement, will also help your body absorb the calcium.
Vitamin D is another well-known bone supplement. Vitamin D is essential to bone health as it helps the body absorb calcium and prevent bone loss. Our bodies naturally make and store vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sun, but as production of this essential vitamin is affected by location, time of year and personal factors such as how fair or dark your skin is, taking supplements is more reliable. Adults should take between 800 and 1,000 mg of vitamin D daily.
Vitamin K helps produce a protein called osteocalcin that attracts calcium to bones and increase bone density. Vitamin K2 is best for bone health; take between 45 and 120 mcg of vitamin K2 daily. Because vitamin K also regulates blood clotting, it should not be taken with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.
Magnesium helps regulate vitamin D and is necessary for calcium metabolism and bone formation. Your body absorbs less and excretes more magnesium as you get older, so supplement your diet with 250 to 350 mg of magnesium twice daily.
Dietary Sources of Bone-Building Minerals
Although most of us will need supplements to take in the daily required amount of minerals needed to keep our bones strong, a healthy diet is a great place to start. Leafy greens contain high amounts of many of these minerals, including magnesium, vitamin K and calcium. Magnesium can also be found in whole grains and legumes, chocolate and dairy products, which also (as we all know) contain calcium. And don’t forget edible weeds! Nettle and chickweed are both rich in calcium.
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.