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  • Aynsley Fisher

The Key To Strong Healthy Bones

Bones are made up of a matrix of living tissue based on collagen, into which crystals of bone minerals are deposited. Calcium and phosphorous are the principle bone minerals in the matrix. Bones undergo remodeling throughout life but peak bone mass is reached around 30. Menopause leads to increased bone loss due to lack of estrogen.

Vitamin D Increases the absorption of calcium. Regulates blood levels of calcium and phosphorous so that these minerals can be deposited into bone. Emerging research suggests that vitamin D has many roles:

• Healthy blood pressure • Prevention of certain cancers- breast, prostrate, colon

• Prevention of depression • Prevention of Type 1 diabetes and lupus

The body can make vitamin D with help of sunlight. The liver makes a vitamin D precursor and with the help of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which becomes an active form of vitamin D. Needs can be met through diet or sun exposure—face, hands, arms—for 5-15 minutes several times a week.

Doses up to 4,000 IU are considered safe. New research at Tufts found taking supplements of at least 800 IU is associated with a lower risk of hip and non-vertebral fractures.

Vitamin K Helps synthesize a bone protein called osteocalcin. Low levels of vitamin K in blood is associated with low bone-mineral density. Older women with high intakes of vitamin K have lower incidence of hip fractures. Good sources include kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens.

Calcium Bones and teeth store 99% of the body’s calcium. Bones play 2 roles: • Structural support for body • Serve as calcium bank, providing calcium to the blood

Calcium is needed to support the growth of teeth and bones. A deficit during growing years and in adulthood can lead to osteoporosis. (osteo=bones, poros=porous)

Calcium Recommendations Age

1-3 500 mg day 4-8 800 mg day 9-18 1,300 mg day 19-50 1,000 mg day

51+ 1,200 day

Calcium in Food • Milk and milk products

• Green vegetables • Some fish and shellfish

• Almonds • Navy beans, soy nuts

Calcium is best used by body when taken in doses of 500 mg or less. Calcium and iron interfere with each other’s absorption (take them at different times). A high calcium intake can limit zinc absorption. Calcium is always combined with another compound. Calcium carbonate provides the most calcium. Calcium citrate and calcium citrate- malate are the best absorbed but are larger tablets. Calcium citrate is a good choice for older people with reduced stomach acid. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Your calcium supplement should be fortified with vitamin D.


Combines with calcium to make calcium phosphate which strengthens bones and teeth. Phosphorous is part of DNA and RNA- genetic code. Helps maintain acid balance and plays a major role in energy metabolism. (Phosphorous is strong in our diet and not a concern for deficiency.)

Magnesium • Bone mineralization

• Protein synthesis • Muscle contraction • Nerve transmission • Helps lower blood pressure

• May lower risk of diabetes

Magnesium requirements:

Adult men- 420 Adult women- 320 Foods meeting over 20% DV are excellent source

Magnesium sources include: 250 Brazil nuts (also high in selenium)

1/2 cup 185 pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) 150 dark leafy greens- spinach (1 cup)

148 soy beans (1 cup) 138 wild salmon (4 oz cooked)

126 sunflower seeds (1/4 cup)

120 halibut (4 oz) 120 black beans (1 cup) 118 quinoa (1 cup cooked)

112 oats (1 cup) 100 almonds (1/4 cup)

100 cashews (1/4 cup)

96.4 navy beans (1 cup) 95 raisin bran (1 cup) 85.8 brown rice (25% DV 1 cup cooked) 78 spinach cooked (1/2 cup) 71.3 lentils (1 cup) 70 firm tofu (1/2 cup) 69 kidney beans (1 cup) 69.6 chickpeas (1 cup) 66.7 avocado (1 cup) 63.8 dark chocolate (70 + dark chocolate 1 oz)

56 oatmeal (1/2 cup) 49.3 dark chocolate (60-69 dark chocolate 1 oz)

44.6 tuna (1 can) 43 yogurt (1 cup) 39 flaxseeds(1 Tbsp) 32 banana 28.8 blackberries 20 grapefruit (1 cup sections) 19.8 strawberries (1 cup halves)

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