Many people are unaware that bone density can begin to decline as early as age 25. Like other cells in the body, bone cells are constantly being replenished, with collagen playing an essential role in this function. Specifically, the process involves old bone cells being broken down and replaced with new cells. While bone density levels remain stable between ages 25-50, a more significant decline occurs after age 50, and osteoporosis can be a serious risk.
Can bone loss be prevented?
While diminished bone density isn’t entirely avoidable, steep declines can often be prevented either through diet, lifestyle or medication. Men with low testosterone and thin women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis because of menopause, which can significantly decrease estrogen levels. This hormone is directly linked with regulating metabolism, which also controls bone mineral density. Focusing on a healthy diet rich in bone-bolstering nutrients can help minimize decline during this life stage. The right food can also help prevent osteoporosis, as well as fractures and breaks from trips, slips, or falls.
Opt for calcium-rich foods
Most people associate calcium with dairy foods. While milk-based products are a rich source of the mineral, plenty of vegetables also offer substantial amounts of calcium. For example, 1 cup of cooked kale can provide 100mg of calcium. Meanwhile, tofu made from soybeans can provide 253mg in just half a cup.
Don’t skimp on vitamin D
Sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D aids the body in properly absorbing calcium. The foods with the most nutritional value in this category are fatty fish like salmon or canned tuna. For people who don’t eat fish, boosting orange juice consumption or adding mushrooms to dishes to get enough vitamin D. Specific mushrooms like raw maitake and dried shiitake are excellent sources, but for an even more significant boost, consider UV-exposed portobello or white mushrooms.
Get more magnesium
Another vital mineral is magnesium, a critical nutrient that aids in bone production. People who consume enough of the mineral tend to have higher bone mineral density than individuals who don’t. Green leafy vegetables like spinach can be an excellent source of magnesium.
Vitamin C for collagen
Ascorbic acid is another vital building block for bone health. Specifically, the vitamin aids in collagen production, which is needed to replenish bone cells. While low vitamin C levels are not common, not getting enough of the nutrient can also lead to poor bone health. While most people assume citrus fruits are the biggest source, vitamin C is also found in vegetables such as red and green peppers, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
Vitamin K and bone density
A great nutrient to incorporate into a daily diet is vitamin K. Many studies have found a link between low levels and reduced bone density. Low vitamin K levels put individuals at increased risk of breaking bones. To get enough vitamin K, turn to dark leafy greens like collard greens, turnip greens, and even Brussels sprouts. People on certain medications, like blood thinners, should speak with a physician before adding vitamin K, which can impact prescription efficacy.
A healthy diet for better health
Improving bone health doesn’t happen magically. For individuals with poor diets, the process requires a concerted effort to improve food choices by replacing nutritionally empty foods with healthier alternatives. The best step is to discuss nutritional deficiencies with a healthcare professional.