Nutrition

As with most things in life, moderation is the key. Too little or too much may be harmful; you want to eat and drink a balanced amount. The challenge is knowing what that balance is.

Whole foods are better for general and bone health. A healthy diet is a balanced diet with adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts and protein. Bone superfoods are almonds, halibut, salmon, leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits.

Facts about protein:

  • A steady supply of protein is essential for the bones and cells in your body. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy and dairy products are good sources of protein. You can also find these nutrients in protein bars and powders.
  • Older men and women may benefit from a higher protein intake. Inadequate protein intake is common in patients who suffer a hip fracture. A low protein diet exposes them to a greater rate of bone and muscle loss.
  • Adequate protein intake during childhood and adolescence is essential to support normal growth and skeletal development. The adolescent years are particularly important for providing sufficient nutrition to maximize peak bone mass, though the specific role of protein and protein-diet interactions in the achievement of optimal bone mass is not specific.

Recommended dietary allowance of protein:

Protein Recommended Dietary/Daily Allowance (RDA)

Infants Up to 12 months 13-14 grams
Children 1-3 years old 13 grams
4-8 years old 19 grams
9-13 years old 34 grams
Males 14-18 years old 52 grams
19-70+ years old 56 grams
Females 14-18 years old 46 grams
19-70+ years old 46 grams
 Note: Values based on average weights

Facts about carbohydrates and fat:

  • Balance is the key. Fat may have a negative influence on bone health. Obese children have a greater risk for fracture. Lower measures of microstructure of bone have been found in adolescent girls with increased abdominal fat. Being underweight and malnourished can cause bone loss and increased risk of fractures, as well.

Many things are essential to maintaining both overall and bone health. Here, you can find some information on the different types of resources your body needs to stay healthy.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D deficiency is characterized by inadequate mineralization or demineralization of the skeleton. The main function of vitamin D is to preserve calcium balance and regulate how it is absorbed in the intestines. With adequate vitamin D, you absorb about 30 to 40 percent of your calcium intake from drinks, foods and supplements. With low vitamin D levels, you absorb only 10 to 15 percent. This causes a series of problems resulting in increased fracture risk.
  • Sun is the main source of vitamin D – all we require is 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight two to three days per week – a little longer for darker skin. Location is also important. In most parts of the country only the May, June, July and August sun provides enough radiation to produce vitamin D.
  • Sunscreen prohibits the production of vitamin D by blocking ultraviolet light, so you must have bare skin to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D.
  • Other factors also interfere with the amount of ultraviolet light absorbed to start the production of vitamin D, such as aging (older skin has less of the precursor to produce vitamin D), body size (larger people require more vitamin D) and clothing (it acts as a  barrier of penetration of UV light).
  • Foods rich in vitamin D include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and eel; egg yolks, small amounts of liver and foods fortified with vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplements are always necessary to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D (30 mg/ml and higher).

Vitamin A

  • There are two types of vitamin A:
    • Retinol, found in animal products (liver, cheese, eggs and oily fish)
    • Beta-carotene, found in fruit and vegetables
  • There is a link between a high dietary intake of vitamin A (retinol serum) with low bone mineral density and increased risk of fracture. Beta-carotene has no link to bone.

Vitamin B

  • Vitamin B-12 and B-6 regulate homocysteine. In high levels, homocysteine is associated with a greater risk of fractures in men and women. Green, leafy vegetables and products fortified with folic acid are good resources of folic acid, which helps your body absorb vitamin B.

Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C is needed for collagen formation and normal bone development, so it may have a protective effect on bone health. Studies show people who take vitamin C supplements have higher bone density, less bone loss and lower hip fracture risk.

Vitamin K

  • There is a possible association between bone health and metabolism with vitamin K intake. The identification of three proteins involved in bone health is activated by vitamin K. However, the amount needed either on diet or supplement intake, is not clear. The recommended dosage is 90 micrograms per day for women. Good sources of vitamin K include dark green vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, kale, broccoli, dark green lettuce and asparagus.

Minerals

Phosphorous

Phosphorus is a mineral that makes up 1 percent of a person’s total body weight. It is present in every cell of the body. Most of the phosphorus in the body is found in the bones and teeth. The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth, but it also plays an important role in how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. Phosphorus also helps the body make ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy. Good food sources include the protein food groups of meat and milk, and whole-grain breads and cereals.

Calcium

Calcium is required for normal growth and development of the skeleton. Adequate calcium intake is critical to achieving optimal peak bone mass and modifying the rate of bone loss associated with aging. A calcium recommendation for daily intake is based on your age. Calcium is needed for many vital body functions, but since the bones reserve calcium (which helps maintain normal blood levels), the daily recommendations are based on bone health.

Foods that are rich in calcium include milk and dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, bok choy, sardines, beans and soy products such as tofu. Food fortified with calcium such as breads, cereals and orange juice can also contribute to your daily intake.

Studies suggest supplements may not be as effective as calcium from foods. However, if you are not reaching your recommended daily calcium intake from your diet, discuss with your physician what kind of supplements would be most appropriate for you.

Salt

Salt is necessary for several body functions, but when taken in excess, it can lead to health problems. It is frequently linked to high blood pressure, strokes and cardiac diseases. Too much salt also increases calcium loss, which contributes to bone loss and osteoporosis. The current recommendation is less than 2,400 milligrams per day. The recommended salt intake is 1,500 milligrams for persons 55 and older, African Americans of any age, people who have diabetes, hypertension or chronic kidney disease. Watch for hidden salt in packaged food, processed meat such as hot dogs and deli meats, canned vegetables and soups. Be sure to read nutrition labels for salt content.