What you eat affects your bones.

How Certain Foods Affect Bone Growth

“Got Milk” commercials might have helped you realize how important calcium is to bone health. Include foods rich in calcium in your daily diet. Milk, dairy products and yogurt are very good sources of calcium. Luckily, many juices (orange juice) are calcium fortified to help people who are lactose intolerant. Look on the packaging to make sure it says Vitamin D and calcium fortified then check the nutrition information to make sure the product has adequate amounts.

 Aside from calcium, there are other nutrients needed by the body for normal bone growth and the maintenance of bone health. For one, Vitamin D assists with calcium absorption in the intestine. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin by direct sunlight and can also be ingested via a supplement. Because many of us work or stay indoors most of the day, a supplement is a good source of vitamin D. Consult with your physician on the appropriate dosage for yourself.

Another important nutrient is magnesium. Why? Magnesium helps regulate calcium in the body and flush out excessive amounts. Rich sources of magnesium can be found in broccoli, peanuts, oysters, soy milk and tofu.

 Other minerals and vitamins which are called micro-nutrients are also needed for maintenance of bone health. These include phosphorous, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. As long as you are eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains, you will be providing your bones these necessary micronutrients.

There are also certain foods which interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body. Foods which are high in oxalate, excessive protein, phytate sodium and caffeine. Oxalates link themselves to calcium which results in crystallization. Thus instead of being synthesized and stored by the body, the calcium is combined with the oxalate and flushed out from the body. Examples of foods which contain high oxalate are spinach, rhubarb and beet greens.

Phytate is another substance that can cause interference in calcium absorption. Foods that are high in phytate are legumes, pinto beans, navy beans and peas. These are also important in our daily nutritional intake so to decrease the phytate levels, immerse the veggies in water for an hour, drain the water and cook the beans.

Although protein is very important for tissue regeneration and sodium is essentially needed for cellular activity, higher than recommended intake levels can interfere with calcium levels.

Necessary Vitamins

Vitamin D is complementary to calcium. This is utilized by the body in order to fully absorb and store the calcium intake. Vitamin D deficiency can result in bone loss. Vitamin D is needed by the body for the development and remodeling of bones. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin but sunlight exposure is required to develop and utilize vitamin D.

Another important component of bones is Phosphorous. This substance is often naturally found in many food sources: cereals, jello, puddings and cheese.

 Magnesium is important because it helps regulate the calcium equilibrium in the body. Rich sources of magnesium can be found in broccoli, peanuts, oysters, soy milk and tofu.

Zinc also has an important function in the maintenance of bone health and is important for bone mineralization and bone remodeling. Zinc deficiency can lead to poor bone status.

Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a type of protein found in the bones. It is the second most abundant protein next to collagen which is also found in bones.

Phytoestrogens Phytoestrogens are considered weak estrogens and can have bone-protective effects. One type of phytoestrogen, the isoflavones have been linked to higher bone mineral density.

As always, please be sure to consult your physician for the recommended doses of any vitamins or supplements that you take and enjoy healthy bones!

Edited by Rachel Horwitz.