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October 2017

Nurture Your Bones

Although bones are developed early in life, they are continually being broken down and rebuilt. There are many nutrients that contribute to maintaining strong bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Getting these key nutrients and regular exercise can keep bones healthy and support good health. 

CALCIUM – Studies have linked this nutrient more than any other in supporting healthy bones.  Women 60-70 yr, should have 1200 mg. and men 60-70 yr. 1000 mg. of calcium daily.  The requirement increases for men to 1200 mg. at age 71.

A typical diet contains about 300 mg of calcium.   Dairy products add an average of 300 mg per serving. Other good food sources include: salmon, sardines, spinach, greens including kale and fortified products.

It is best to space calcium-rich foods over the day to improve absorption.  Try to get your calcium from the foods you eat. 

VITAMIN D – Essential to absorbing calcium. Only 10% of calcium will be absorbed if the vitamin D level is low. The daily “D” goal is 800 IU.

Make the most of the few good food sources: salmon, sardines, tuna, egg yolks and D fortified dairy. Enjoy safe sun exposure.

Have your doctor test your D blood level; it should be at least 32 ng/ml to support bone health. 

VITAMIN B12 and Folate – Both support bone health by keeping homocysteine (amino acid) levels low. This amino acid stimulates the breakdown of bone. B12 is found in meat, fish, poultry and fortified products. You may need to supplement if you are taking antacids regularly. Your doctor should check B12-blood levels. Folate sources: leafy green vegetables, broccoli, asparagus and legumes. Folate requirement for adults: 400 mcg.

MAGNESIUM – This mineral may improve bone density and is essential in converting vitamin D to its active form in the body. 

Foods rich in magnesium: spinach, oatmeal, pinto beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

If you take a calcium supplement you may need supplemental magnesium since high calcium intake will deplete this nutrient. Requirement for adults: 320mg.(women)- 420mg.(men).

VITAMIN K – There are two forms of vitamin K - K1 and K2. Both play a role in blood clotting. Vitamin K2 directs calcium to bones instead of depositing it in the arteries.

Food sources of K1 are dark leafy green vegetables: kale and spinach.  K2-rich foods are cheese, and grass-fed meat. 

Do not supplement if you are taking a blood thinner. Requirement for adults: 90(women)-120 (men) mcg.

The Bottom Line:  It is best to try to get these key nutrients from food. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, reduced fat dairy products and lean protein. If your blood levels of vitamin D or B12 are low or you cannot eat the foods rich in these important nutrients, you may need to supplement. Consult your doctor before taking supplements, especially vitamin K.


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