I was having lunch with a good friend of mine the other day,who astutely pointed out that what women need when it comes to knowing how to maintain good bone health, is a “shopping list”.

So here it is. Hope you find this useful.

Daily recommended calcium intake for women, aged 20 to 50: 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day; women over 50, 1,200 milligrams.
Use your diet as a source of calcium first. Then ask your doctor if supplements are necessary. You may need to check your blood levels and have a bone density scan to determine this.

Which foods are a good source of calcium?

One cup of milk, ¾ cup plain yogurt and 1.5 ounces of cheese all contain about 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.

For those of you who are lactose intolerant, try fortified soy beverages (300 mg per 1 cup), sardines with bones (3 ounces = 325 mg), canned salmon with bones (3 ounces = 188 mg), cooked Swiss chard (1 cup = 102 mg), cooked broccoli (1 cup = 62 mg) and almonds (1/4 cup = 92 mg).

Vitamin D aids calcium absorption from foods and assists in preventing osteoporosis. Recommendations include a daily vitamin D3 supplement of 400 to 1,000 IU for healthy adults under age 50. To maintain optimal vitamin D levels, 800 to 2,000 IU per day may be required. Always check with your doctor first before taking or changing supplements.

Try to inlude more vitamin K rich foods. Vitamin K activates proteins that bind calcium to bone. Increased vitamin K intakes have been linked with reduced bone loss and fewer fractures in postmenopausal women.

Vegetables and proteins rich in Vitamin K include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, soybeans, lean meat and cheese.

Did you know that excess salt, caffeine and alcohol can cause calcium to be excreted from the body?  Maintain a daily sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams; most adults require 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams per day.

How much caffeine? 400 milligrams per day (1 cup of coffee = 100 to 175 mg; 1 cup of black tea = 45 mg). If you have osteoporosis, try to consume no more than 200 milligrams.

Maximum alcohol intake should be seven drinks per week. For example, one glass of wine or beer per day.

Also, always ask your health care practitioner about your medications and if they affect your bones.

Here is a more comprehensive lists of medications to be aware of:
· Aluminum-containing antacids
· Antiseizure medications (only some) such as Dilantin® or Phenobarbital
· Aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex®, Aromasin® and Femara®
· Cancer chemotherapeutic drugs
· Cyclosporine A and FK506 (Tacrolimus)
· Glucocorticoids such as cortisone and prednisone
· Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) such as Lupron® and Zoladex®
· Heparin
· Lithium
· Medroxyprogesterone acetate for contraception (Depo-Provera®)
· Methotrexate
· Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium®, Prilosec® and Prevacid®
· Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Lexapro®, Prozac® and Zoloft®
· Tamoxifen® (premenopausal use)
· Thiazolidenediones (Actos® and Avandia®)
· Thyroid hormones in excess

Have fun shopping and knowing your are on you are on your way to better bone health!