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The Secret to Bone Health: It’s Not Just Calcium

Strong bones help us age gracefully and allow us to continue enjoying our favorite activities with ease. The opposite of strong bones is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is very common among adults over the age of sixty. Women have an even higher chance of developing osteoporosis after menopause…in fact, 70% of women over the age of 79 are diagnosed with osteoporosis. However, you have control now over your bone health, as strong bones are tied to resistance exercise and nutrition. Calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients, and as we start reaching 50+ it is time to put more intention into what you are consuming to ensure strong bones for years to come. 

When we think of calcium, most of us think back to childhood and being told to drink lots of milk to build strong bones. While that is true, it is also true that calcium is important throughout the entire lifespan.

Calcium is crucial for various functions in the body such as: 

1. Bone Health: Calcium is a key component of bones and teeth, providing strength and structure. Adequate calcium intake is essential for building and maintaining strong bones throughout life, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures as you age.

2. Muscle Function: Calcium plays a vital role in muscle contraction, including the heart muscle. It helps regulate muscle contractions, making sure they are coordinated. 

3. Blood Clotting: Calcium is necessary for the blood clotting process. When you get a cut or injury, calcium helps platelets in the blood stick together to form a blood clot, which stops bleeding and helps in wound healing.You want this to continue working properly as you age. 

4. Cell Signaling: Calcium regulates various cellular processes such as enzyme activity and hormone secretion, which is essential to a healthy and happy body.

While calcium needs will change throughout the life cycle, a general recommendation is 1,000 mg per day for adults. Once you reach 50 years and older, the intake bumps up to 1,200mg per day. 

This may sound like a lot, but do not panic! These days, we have many food options that are fortified with calcium to help us reach these goals. For example, almost all breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Other sources of calcium include Greek yogurt, soybeans (tofu), spinach, and kale. There are also many calcium supplements available. Nature Made is a reputable company that sells high-quality calcium supplements if you feel that you may need more calcium than you are able to get from food alone.

Calcium isn’t the only important nutrient for strong bones. When discussing calcium, it is important to also bring up vitamin D. These two work well together because vitamin D helps improve the absorbance of calcium in the body. You can be consuming adequate amounts of calcium but if you do not have the ability to absorb it all, you will not reap the benefits. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D for ages 19-70 is 15 mcg or 0.015 mg per day, rising to 20 mcg or 0.020 mg above the age of 70. Do not panic, most milk is fortified with at least 3 mcg of Vitamin D per cup! 

Some foods high in vitamin D include salmon, eggs, cheese, and fortified foods such as cereal, tofu, and milk. Incorporating calcium and vitamin D from multiple sources in your diet will ensure that you are reaching the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D and calcium. It’s also an option to take a vitamin D supplement. I recommend the brand “Klean” for a high-quality vitamin D supplement. Make sure you take your vitamin D with a meal for best absorption.

Some easy combinations that satisfy an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D include: 

  1. Scrambled eggs and spinach sauteed in butter, and orange juice. 

  2. Fruit smoothie with soy milk, berries, and peanut butter. 

  3. Salmon salad with greens, tomatoes, avocado, and an olive oil vinaigrette. 

  4. Spinach and mushroom whole wheat pizza with a side salad. 

Further Learning

For more insights into nutrition and healthy living, tune into my podcast RDs vs BS, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stay tuned for more tips in the coming months!

I’m currently offering a free nutrition intro session to all new clients. If you’re interested in improving your nutrition in a way that lasts, sign up for a session through my website below.

Instagram: @emily_rd_

Written by: Gabby Romero 


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