Raise your hand if you’re over thirty. If your hand is up you’ve already passed the point of what experts call peak bone mass. What that really means is that the bone tissue in your skeleton has reached its strongest and densest point.
If all goes well not a lot of changes occur for the next 25 to 30 years. But bone loss can become a real problem as we age, especially for women.
During the first few years after menopause women tend to rapidly lose bone. And losing too much bone density puts you at risk for broken bones and osteoporosis.1,2
Following are four foods that can help you fight bone loss and build stronger “break proof” bones as you age.
1. Pumpkin seeds:
Pumpkin seeds are rich in two minerals—magnesium and zinc—that can help you build stronger bones.
You need plenty of magnesium on board for your body to successfully covert vitamin D into its active form, which promotes calcium absorbtion.3,4,5 In a large observational study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that women taking in 400 mg of magnesium a day had two to three percent higher bone density than women who only got half that amount.6
Pumpkin seeds make a great snack or addition to your favorite dishes, and they’re a great source of magnesium. A quarter cup, or around four tablespoons of the seeds, provides around 190 mg of the mineral. Other foods that pack in a lot of magnesium are sesame seeds, black beans, navy beans, cashews and sunflower seeds.
Although zinc is a trace mineral that’s only needed in small amounts, it’s critical for strong healthy bones. The trace mineral isn’t just found within the mineral portion of your bones, it also helps trigger new bone formation.7 At the same time it guards against the breakdown of bone that we see as we age.8,9
Other great sources of zinc include grassfed beef, sesame seeds, lentils and chickpeas.
Recently I revealed how mackerel can help slash your heart attack risk. Now you have another good reason to find a regular spot on your menu for this often overlooked fish.
Research shows that mackerel can help you stave off age-related bone loss and spur new bone growth.10,11,12,13 And although fatty fish are some of the best sources of omega-3s around, a study published in Nutrition Journal found that plant based omega-3s help fight bone loss and promote new bone building too.14
Looking for other sources of omega-3 beyond mackerel? Lake trout, herring, tuna, salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and spinach are all rich in omega-3s.
If you’re a cheese lover you’re in luck. It turns out including some calcium rich mozzarella in your meals can be a great way to promote healthier bones.
Calcium is absolutely critical for creating the kind of strong “break proof” bones that can keep you active and out of a nursing home well into your golden years. In fact, 99 percent of the calcium in your body is found in your teeth and skeleton.
Studies show that getting enough calcium can reduce your risk of bone breaks and osteoporosis. And research has revealed the mineral plays a vital role in forming new bone and repairing existing bone.15,16,17
Of course mozzarella is far from the only good source of calcium. Other cheeses such as Swiss and cheddar deliver a healthy punch of the mineral too. And since variety is the spice of life be sure to include other calcium-rich foods in your diet. Almonds, sesame seeds, sardines, bok choy, kale and watercress are all good choices.
4. Portabella mushrooms:
It’s quite common to run low on vitamin D. In fact, according to research published in the journal Age and Ageing it’s estimated that around a billion folks worldwide are walking around without enough of this critical vitamin in their bodies.18
And that’s a problem because D plays a few important roles in bone health.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb more bone friendly calcium. Taking in enough D can significantly reduce your risk of hip fractures.19 And adequate blood levels of this vital vitamin (your doc can check yours) will help lower your risk for bone loss and osteoporosis, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.20
Most folks think of milk when you mention vitamin D. And it’s true, D fortified milk is a good source. But believe it or not portabella mushrooms are packed with vitamin D too. Other good food sources of vitamin D include cod, liver oil, cheese, eggs, pork, smoked salmon and herring.
1. “Peak bone mass,” Osteoporos Int. 1994;4 Suppl 1:7-13
2. “Osteoporosis: Peak Bone Mass in Women,” NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, niams.nih.gov, Accessed 1/23/2017
3. “Bone demineralization and impaired mineral metabolism in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. A possible role of magnesium deficiency,” Helv Paediatr Acta. 1989 Jun;43(5-6):405-14
4. “Magnesium, vitamin D status and mortality: results from US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2006 and NHANES III,” BMC Med. 2013 Aug 27;11:187
5. “Vitamin D,” Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center, Oregon State University, oregonstate.edu, Accessed 1/23/2017
6. “Zinc Supplementation Increases Procollagen Type 1 Amino-Terminal Propeptide in Premenarcheal Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” J Nutr. 2015 Dec;145(12):2699-704
7. “Zinc Supplementation Increases Procollagen Type 1 Amino-Terminal Propeptide in Premenarcheal Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” J Nutr. 2015 Dec;145(12):2699-704
8. “Copper, magnesium, zinc and calcium status in osteopenic and osteoporotic post-menopausal women,” Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2015 Jan-Apr; 12(1): 18–21
9. “Zinc supplementation improves bone density in patients with thalassemia: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Oct; 98(4): 960–971
10. “The role for dietary omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in older adults,” Nutrients. 2014 Oct 3;6(10):4058-73
11. “An investigation of the association between omega 3 FA and bone mineral density among older adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey years 2005–2008,” Osteoporos Int. 2014 Mar; 25(3): 1033–1041
12. “An increase in dietary n-3 fatty acids decreases a marker of bone resorption in humans,” Nutr J. 2007 Jan 16;6:2
13. “Ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids and bone mineral density in older adults: the Rancho Bernardo Study,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr;81(4):934-8
14. “An increase in dietary n-3 fatty acids decreases a marker of bone resorption in humans,” Nutr J. 2007 Jan 16;6:2
15. “Effects of calcium intake, milk and dairy product intake, and blood vitamin D level on osteoporosis risk in Korean adults: analysis of the 2008 and 2009 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” Nutr Res Pract. 2013 Oct;7(5):409-17
16. “Vitamin D and vitamin D analogues for preventing fractures in post-menopausal women and older men,” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Apr 14;(4):CD000227
17. “Factors in relation to bone mineral density in Korean middle-aged and older men: 2008-2010 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” Ann Nutr Metab. 2014;64(1):50-9
18. “Understanding vitamin D deficiency,” Age Ageing. 2014 Sep; 43(5): 589–591
19. “Need for additional calcium to reduce the risk of hip fracture with vitamin d supplementation: evidence from a comparative metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials,” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Apr;92(4):1415-23
20. “Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):1080S-6S
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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