It’s Halloween! Let’s Talk About Bones.

Halloween is just around the corner and as we pull out the skeleton decorations it’s a great time to talk about bone health. Nutrition and lifestyle choices can be detrimental to your bones. Learn how to prevent osteoporosis and find out what nutrients are key to maintain strong, healthy bones. It is important to be mindful that bone is a living, growing tissue and is constantly changing. It is made up of collagen, which provides the soft framework and calcium phosphate the mineral that creates the strength and hardening around that framework. Throughout life our bones are in a constant state of remodeling, and as we age, more bone is broken down and replaced. By our mid to late 20s peak bone mass has been achieved and it’s time to maintain and keep those bones strong.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become weak and brittle. More than 40 million adults in the United States have or are at risk of developing Osteoporosis. As you age you lose more bone than you form making it vital to know what to do to keep your bones strong. For women, bone loss increases after menopause due to the reduction of estrogen. In fact in the 5 to 7 years post-menopause women can lose up to 20% or more of bone density. Men aren’t off the hook, they too are affected by osteoporosis due to reduction in testosterone levels. In fact, 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Additionally, for women >45 years old osteoporosis accounts for more days in the hospital than many other diseases such as, breast cancer, myocardial infarction, diabetes and many more.

Who’s at risk?
  • Gender-Women have less bone tissue than men.
  • Age-Bones become thinner and weaker as we age. Can be due to hormonal changes (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone decrease).
  • Breastfed Infants- Breast milk is deficient in vitamin D. Mothers need to supplement or provide 400IUs daily to infant
  • Family History-Does anyone in your family have a history of osteoporosis? Genetic mutations decrease mineral and vitamin absorption. 
  • Medications- Anticonvulsants, glucocorticoids, corticosteroids, anti-fungal, cholesterol lowering drug cholestyramine and antiretroviral therapy
What can I do to keep bones healthy?

Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin can be found in dietary sources and sun exposure. As we age our body’s ability to absorb Vitamin D decreases, so it may be necessary to get your levels checked. In fact it’s estimated that 50% of all adults worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D. If your levels are low (<30nmol/L), and you need to supplement look for 1000-4000 IU for adults and at least 1,000 IU/day for children and adolescents. Remember to consume your vitamin D with fat, since it’s a fat soluble vitamin and will increase absorption.

Additionally, Your vitamin D status can be affected by geographical location, age, time of year, body size, medications and skin color. The following are additional ways Vitamin D helps maintain health. It suppresses some types of cancer cells, increases insulin sensitivity, decreases cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure, improves muscle contraction, enhances immune system, prevents the loss of specific neurons in the brain and suppresses the autoimmune response (MS, RA, Crohn’s disease and T1DM). Dietary sources can be found in Salmon, egg yolks, cheese, milk (fortified), cereal and even mushrooms. Recommended dietary allowances are 600 IUs for children, adolescents, and adults and 800 IUs for adults over 70. 

Food Serving Vitamin D
Salmon 3 oz. 447 IU
Egg 1 41 IU
Milk (all fat levels) 1 cup 115-125 IU
Cereal (fortified) 1 cup 40-100 IU
Cheese, Swiss 1 oz. 6 IU

Calcium is the most plentiful and dominant mineral in the body. In combination with phosphate, it becomes the foundation that strengthens bone and teeth. Calcium also plays a role in nerve impulses, muscle contraction and blood clotting. When our body doesn’t get enough calcium from our diet, the body will pull calcium from the bones. Additionally, calcium can decrease when consumed with foods high in phytic acid, sodium, coffee, and tea. So, if your trying to increase calcium in your diet be aware of the foods your eating. Dietary sources include, dairy products, soy and almond milk, bok choy, turnip greens, almonds, white beans, tofu, tahini and other leafy greens. Spread these out throughout the day, since your body can only absorb ~500mg at a time.

The recommendation is to consume 1000mg-1300mg/daily for children and adolescents, and 1000mg/daily for adults. Focus on food first, but if you still can’t get enough calcium consider a supplement. Calcium Carbonate is inexpensive and convenient, but needs to be taken with food and may cause gastrointestinal issues. Calcium Citrate is absorbed equally with or without food and has shown to cause less gastrointestinal side effects.

Food Serving Calcium
Tofu (calcium Sulfate) 1/2 cup 434 mg
Collard greens 1 cup (frozen) 357 mg
Milk (all fat levels) 1 cup 300 mg
Soy milk (w/ calcium) 1 cup 299 mg
Almonds 1 oz. 76 mg

Our skeleton is two-thirds magnesium with 50 to 60% residing in the bone. Magnesium helps with proper calcium and vitamin D regulation as well as nerve function, muscles, and all living cells. People who consume moderate amounts of alcohol, take diuretics, or use proton pump inhibitors may have increased urinary excretion, resulting in magnesium deficiency. Dietary sources include collards, kale, okra, bok choy, seeds (poppy, sesame, chia); nuts, legumes, whole grains and avocados, so generally speaking foods containing fiber also contain magnesium. It’s recommended to consume 100-400 mg/daily for children and adolescents and 300-400mg/daily for adults. Adequate amounts can be met through dietary resources and is the recommended avenue due to over supplementation of magnesium and negative side effects.

Food Serving Calcium
Almonds 1 oz. 80mg
Spinach 1/2 cup (cooked) 78 mg
Soy Milk 1 cup 61mg
Black Beans 1/2 cup 60 mg
Chicken 3 oz. 22 mg
Physical Activity

Moving your body and being active is key to bone health. Weight bearing activities is going to have the biggest impact on building and supporting bone mass growth and repair. For instance walking, running, aerobics and even yoga can build strong bones and slow bone loss. At Active SWV we have several FREE programs to help get you started supporting your bones.  

So, this Halloween season as you see skeletons around town, remember to take care of yours by participating in some physical activity, adding nutrients that boost bone health or get screened to prevent future issues.   

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