Strong Healthy Bones Need Good Nutrition 

by Dr. Kimberly Albarran, PT, DPT, CFNS

Hippocrates acknowledged the importance of healthy eating. Some foods have protective and healing properties, others can wreak havoc on the body.

When it comes to bone health, peak bone mass occurs between the ages of 25 to 35. If not maintained through diet and exercise, the rate of bone breakdown can start to exceed the rate of bone production.

This is when osteoporosis and osteopenia can start occurring. 

Other risk factors for developing osteopenia and osteoporosis include being female, Caucasian, Asian and experiencing menopause. Men can be at risk as a result of lowered testosterone levels and sedentary lifestyles.

Difficulty with nutrient absorption and demineralization also increase risk. These factors can cause problems:

  • Digestive disorders (such as acid reflux, Crohn’s and Celiac disease)
  • Low fruit, veggie intake
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Parathyroid, thyroid conditions
  • Certain medications (such as acid blockers, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, anticoagulants, some diuretics, chemotherapy, laxatives, some antibiotics)
  • Eating disorders (such as anorexia, bulimia) 
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol (two drinks per day)
  • Caffeine intake (three cups caffeinated coffee per day)
  • Sodas containing phosphoric acid
  • High sugary, processed foods high in sodium and phosphorus pull calcium out of the bone. 

Speak with your health care provider about bone density screenings. It would be best if you had your vitamin D levels checked as vitamin D helps the body digest bone-building minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper and boron.  

Foods high in vitamin D include mushrooms and wild sockeye salmon, containing nearly 1,200 IU of vitamin D for a 6-ounce serving. Nori, a dried seafood vegetable, also is rich in bone-building nutrients.

Enjoy 4 ounces of nuts and seeds daily for calcium intake. Drink more water, less soda; caffeinated drinks and warm herbal teas can help improve digestion. Reduce animal protein and dairy because both create acid precursors increasing the need for calcium from the bone to bind with them and eliminate them in the kidneys.

Engage in strength training and load-bearing exercise to stimulate the parathyroid gland, which produces hormones responsible for bone building. Increasing strength and balance can reduce risk of falling, reducing your risk of fracture.

Work with a health coach and functional (holistic) nutrition specialist to help create meal plans and provide support along the way to a healthier lifestyle.

Prevention is key.