The role of Nutrition in bone health

The role of Nutrition in bone health

“Drink your milk” is what we kept hearing from our parents as children. Whether we liked it or not, we were somewhat “persuaded” to get that glass in before school! Little did we know how important it is to get your calcium in as early as possible, since as you age, more so after the age of 30, you start losing slightly more bone mass than you gain. The more you have Calcium in your bones the more the bone density and the less chances you have for fractures. 

There are other risk factors that contribute to weak and brittle bones.  Some research has shown that smoking, high alcohol consumption, long term steroid use, weight loss surgeries, eating disorders, high thyroid function, are among those factors. 

The good news though is that bones continue to remodel. So with the proper nutrition you can keep the bones strong. Assuring a constant supply of nutrients and especially Calcium is important so that it does not get drawn out of the bones into the blood. This is because Calcium is needed for various functions as well like muscle contractions, blood clotting and nervous system. The RDA for Calcium is 1000 mg for men and 1200mg for women in individuals above 50 years of age.

Along with Calcium, comes Vitamin D to help it being absorbed along with Magnesium and Vitamin K. The RDA for Vitamin D is 600 IU. Sources are fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and fortified dairy, but mostly sun exposure that makes it active in our body. And who knew that protein is important for bones just as much as muscles? Bone tissue is made out of almost 30% protein. 

Phosphates that come from soft drinks and non-natural sources, seem to interfere with Vitamin D absorption. So keeping those to a minimum is key. Also be aware of the sodium consumption as it seems to increase calcium losses. 

This will bring us back to the recommendations that, a well rounded, balanced, and varied diet is important to keep your bones strong as much as your other body parts.  The inclusion of regular exercise is just as important.  The recommendations are a minimum of 150 minutes per week.


Calcium Packed Foods

Food item Serving sizeCalcium in mg
Raw milk1 cup300
Kale (cooked)1 cup245
Sardines60 g217
Yogurt¾ cup300
Broccoli (cooked)1 ½ cup93
Cheese 30 g224


Finally, make sure you consult with your physician and health care professional regularly to keep your health in check, and contact your dietitian at our Nutrition Centre for further information on nutrition and bone health. 

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Zeina Soueidan

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