|It’s meal time and your stomach’s grumbling. But rather than think about feeding your appetite, why not think about feeding your bones?
Bone health – the basicsThe adult human skeleton contains 206 bones which, together, create the framework of our bodies, protecting vital organs and aiding movement. In order to function well, our bones depend on exercise, a healthy lifestyle and a good supply of nutrients – in particular, calcium and vitamin D. Unfortunately, however, many people don’t get enough of these vital nutrients which can lead to serious health problems.
Hungry bones – what deficiencies can do to our bonesCalcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health. While calcium contributes significantly to bone strength, vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium we consume. A deficiency in these nutrients can contribute to the development of osteoporosis, a serious disease involving loss of bone strength and density. Osteoporosis can cause thinning and weakening of the bones, increasing the likelihood of fractures. However, the good news is that with the right lifestyle choices, including good eating habits, you can minimise your risk.
Calcium – how much for me?Your daily calcium needs depend on your age, gender and health circumstances. Here’s a guide:
Children and adolescents
(Source: National Health and Medical Research Council)
To help keep your bones healthy and strong, reach for calcium-rich ‘bone’ foods. Some great sources of calcium include:
And, to boost your intake of vitamin D, get some sun. Of course, sunlight is not technically a food, but it’s one of the best sources of vitamin D. Unfortunately, in light of the push for sun protection measures to prevent skin cancer, many people are vitamin D deficient. The key is to strike a balance between protection and safe sun exposure, so speak to your doctor about your vitamin D needs – they will depend on your age and complexion.
Give these delicious recipes a go – your bones will love them!
Adopting a healthy diet is a great way to care for your bones. However, exercise is another important factor. Not only does it boost bone mass, which improves bone strength, it also helps to build muscle which is important for protecting the joints. To ensure that you are giving your bones the best possible care, combine a healthy diet with regular physical activity and plenty of doctor visits across your lifetime. Because your nutritional needs will change throughout the different stages of your life (e.g. childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, etc.), consulting your doctor about the health of your bones is a great idea.