Beyond giving the body its shape, bones play a much larger role than we realize. Bones are constantly changing shape and composition to accommodate bodily changes or needs, and many of us take them for granted. Given that brittle bones cause about 8.9 million osteoporotic fractures per year, it is evident that a high percentage of people, especially women over the age of 30, are losing bone density. How do you avoid the development of brittle bones?
In order for bones to maintain density and strength, one must consume calcium-rich foods and maintain optimal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium, but most foods do not contain natural vitamin D. A lot of fortified foods exist, and mushrooms are really the only natural food source of vitamin D. Avoid fortified foods and stay in the sun for about 15-30 minutes a day to naturally absorb vitamin D. If you need a great list of calcium-rich foods, click here. The NHS says that these two nutrients are integral for healthy bones, but you can also consume the following bone-strengthening foods to maintain bone health.
While a variety of nuts can assist with bone building, walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts are the ones that steal the spotlight. They are all great sources of calcium and alpha linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that works to inhibit bone breakdown. A handful of walnuts, almonds, or Brazil nuts should be your go-to snack option, and don’t forget about raw almond butter, either.
Broccoli is a known source of plant-based protein, but it is also praised for its diverse nutritional profile. Loaded with calcium, potassium, folate, vitamin C, phosphorus, and vitamin K, broccoli can help strengthen your bones and teeth. To obtain these benefits, it is best to consume one serving of broccoli every day.
Famed for their vitamin K content, leafy greens need to be featured in your diet to help build strong bones. Befriend the salad and learn to love it in all its forms because vitamin K aids with bone protein formation and helps to reduce calcium loss in the urine. According to several studies, people with low levels of vitamin K in the body have an increased risk of hip fractures. One cup of raw leafy greens exceeds the amount of the recommended intake of 90 micrograms per day.
Prunes are commonly consumed to help encourage bowel movements, but they have been known to benefit bone mineral density. In addition to slowing bone deterioration, prunes may help to build new bone. New research has credited these properties to the phenolic compounds in prunes.
When the average person thinks of building strong bones, calcium is the first mineral that comes to mind. When you consider that 50% of the body’s magnesium is stored in bones, magnesium should also be a mineral to focus on in order to keep your bones healthy. Since low levels of magnesium have been associated with calcium loss and fragile bones, start consuming magnesium-rich foods. Great sources of magnesium include leafy greens, summer squash, avocados, bananas, mangos, Brazil nuts, almonds, quinoa, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, lentils, and sunflower seeds.
A Noticeable Omission:
You may have noticed that milk is not on this list. Despite the information that ads preached when you were growing up, milk is not beneficial for bone health. In fact, milk has an acidifying effect on the body, which can degrade bone composition.
Why Are Bones So Important?
The human body would be nothing more than a gelatinous blob of tissues and fluids if it weren’t for our bones. While bones provide support and structure, they are not as heavy as you might think. The skeletal system plays a protective role in the body, especially and most noticeably for the skull and vertebrae, protecting the central nervous system. The central nervous system controls the rest of the body and it is an intricate, fragile network that would be compromised without bone protection. The ribs also protect the vital organs in the chest.
Blood Cell Production:
Have you heard of bone marrow? It’s not just something that you can order at a restaurant, despite the attention on ossobuco, an Italian dish of braised veal shanks, or beef bone marrow that is incorporated in pot-au-feu broth in French cuisine. Bone marrow is inside bones in the human body, and it is also where red blood cells are made. Red blood cells are necessary for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Bone marrow is also the production center for white blood cells (necessary for immune health), fibroblasts (necessary for connective tissue production), and adipocytes (fat cells).