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6 Tips for Healthy Bones

Posted on 05/7/2015

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month and a great time to talk about how to protect oneself from osteoporosis through diet! 

Here are my top tips to help prevent osteoporosis:

Consume 2-3 servings of dairy daily

Consuming enough dairy is the best way to protect against osteoporosis. This is because dairy contains the highest concentration of calcium per serving. Milk is also fortified with vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health -- possibly an even bigger one than calcium. Milk is also a top source of high quality protein and a good source of potassium. The fact that milk is a great source for all of these nutrients makes it the perfect food for bone health. For optimal health, serve up between 2 and 2 ½ cups per day for kids, and for adults, consume up to 3 cups per day.  For those who cannot drink milk, but are still looking for those essential nutrients it offers, turn to a dairy alternative. Not all alternative dairy choices offer these nutrients, but many do. What to look for in alternative milk: higher levels of protein, low or no added sugars, added (fortified) vitamins and minerals that you would find in cow’s milk, like 30% DV of calcium and 25% DV of vitamin D.

Consume other calcium rich foods

For those who choose to not drink milk, or who cannot drink it, the good news is you don’t have to in order to achieve the health benefits. For people who choose to not drink milk, it is important to favor other sources of calcium. Examples include lactose-free dairy, and leafy green vegetables such as collard greens, spinach and bok choy, beans, and calcium-fortified orange juice or soy milk and vegetables. It is possible to consume enough protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium through other foods; however it requires a well-planned diet. For most Americans, it is easier to consume one food that supplies all of these nutrients.

Avoid heavy drinking

Drinking more than 2-3 drinks per day can actually lead to bone loss. Avoid heavy drinking to prevent osteoporosis.

Avoid excessive caffeine

Coffee, tea and soft drinks contain caffeine, which may decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. In fact, drinking more than three cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverage every day may interfere with calcium absorption and cause bone loss. Choose these drinks in moderation. Remember, caffeine also lurks in energy drinks and chocolate, so watch your intake of these items as well.

Consume the right amount of protein

It’s important to get enough, but not too much protein for bone health. Many older adults do not get enough protein in their diets and this may be harmful to bones. However, special high protein diets that contain multiple servings of meat and protein with each meal can also cause the body to lose calcium. You can make up for this loss by getting enough calcium for your body’s needs. For example dairy products, although high in protein, also contain calcium that is important for healthy bones.

Limit sodium

Eating food high in sodium, or adding a lot of salt to food, causes your body to lose calcium and can lead to bone loss. Try to limit the amount of processed foods, canned foods and adding salt to food. Most people should aim to consume 2,400 mg or less of sodium per day. 

Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating not only provides numerous health benefits ranging from weight loss to lowering cholesterol, but our menus are made from fresh ingredients and can support those who are living independently. View our traditional and vegetarian menus and learn how Seattle Sutton can help you achieve your goal of a healthier, happier you!

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Rene Ficek, RDN, CDE

Grew up in the food industry and took that love of healthy eating to earn her degree in nutrition. She has worked as a registered dietitian for 6 years and has been with SSHE since 2013, providing nutrition analysis and meal planning. Her special interests in weight management and diabetes, helps patients manage their weight and health conditions. She enjoys an active lifestyle, as well as time in the kitchen. Rene’s favorite SSHE meal is the Thai Noodle Salad.

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