Osteoporosis: These health tips are not just for women
Hey y’all, both women AND men need to listen up about healthy bones. Its not just women that get osteoporosis – men can and DO get it too.The best way to deal with osteoporosis is to avoid it in the first place. There are things we can do to help stave it off. Exercise is essential – but I’ll save that discussion for now. The aspect we will focus on here is yourdiet. You probably know all about calcium – and we’ll talk about that – but there are other vitamins and minerals that are important in our diet to help us in our quest to stave it off.
Most people know that osteoporosis means thinning of the bones, and most people realize that this can lead to fractures, breaks and that hump in the back, called dowagers hump. Breaking bones when you are elderly is no easy fix. We lack the regenerative ability that the young have and healing takes much much longer. But worse than that – 30% of elderly who break their hips will die within 12 months. Why? Because the bone doesn’t regenerate and heal and infection sets in. Even if you do recover, your risk for having a permanent disability and needing assistance to perform daily activities leads many to have to live in nursing homes. Are you beginning to get the picture of why it’s so important to prevent it if you can?
Bone health begins to decline after age 35 – we just can’t replace it as quickly as we lose it.
Its not IF you lose bone, but how quickly you lose it, and how much you can slow down the rate of bone loss. Fortunately, following some healthy eating guidelines can help you in your quest to maintain healthy bones. Lets talk about calcium for a moment. How much do you really need? The nutritional guidelines suggest that if you are a woman in menopause then you need 1200mg per day and 1000mg for men. That translates to about 300mg of calcium per cup of milk. Dairy products have been the mainstay of calcium sources for the western word, but you know what – dairy is not the only place to get your calcium. Not only that but a diet that is high in protein (and milk is a great source of protein) can actually cause you to lose calcium from your body at a faster rate. This is something to consider, if you eat a high protein diet make sure you are getting you calcium. One other point to make about dairy products – as people age their ability to tolerate lactose declines so getting calcium from different sources other than calcium becomes important.
So where else can you get calcium apart from dairy. The most obvious choice for most people is fortified products. I don’t say that they are the best, but if you eat cereal for breakfast for example, just make sure it’s fortified. Real food sources (meaning food as nature intended) include leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli. Nuts also contain some calcium, as do legumes and the yolk of eggs.
Health Tips about Vitamin D and Osteoporosis – the wonder vitamin.
You might have been hearing quite a bit about this vitamin lately. And for very good reason. I’m here to tell you that amongst other things that vitamin D is needed for – you can get all the calcium you want, but if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D your efforts are wasted. Yes wasted. Vitamin D has been an overlooked vitamin and now nutrition science is discovering just how important this vitamin is for preventing lots of health conditions, from cancer to heart health to bone health. I can’t stress how important this vitamin is to your health. Here’s the thing. For years and years we have been underestimating how much vitamin D we actually need. Quite simply lack of vitamin D means osteoporosis. But you do have to be careful. Lets look at this vitamin for a minute
Mostly we get vitamin D from the sun – we make it in our bodies as the sun hits our skin. As we age our capacity to make vitamin D decreases. Not only that, but it used to be thought that 20 minutes per day with your arms exposed was enough, now we know its 30 minutes per day in a bathing suit. OK – are you getting enough vitamin D? I am not.
There have been concerns with vitamin D toxicity and this is a legit concern. But we to take a look at this too. Most of us are vitamin D deficient. The Vitamin D council suggests that everyone begin by taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day. (I would use vitamin D3 which is the active form of it). OK, so after taking vitamin D 5000 IU per day for about 2-3 months, go and have your blood levels checked by your doctor. This is important because you need to know where you are in terms of your blood levels. What vitamin D does is to increase the uptake of calcium into your bones. When there is an excess of vitamin D, then you can get what is called calcification of soft tissue – so your organs can become calcified. Not good – not good at all. However, if you get your blood levels checked you will know where you are and how much you need to supplement. The Vitamin D council says that blood levels of 50ng/ml – something your doctor will have to test for. A caveat to supplementation with vitamin D is that if you suffer from certain cancers, granulomatous TB, sarcoidosis or primary hyperparathyroidism you MUST consult with your health provider before beginning any vitamin D regime.
Have you heard of lysine? It’s an amino acid found in beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, brewers yeast, soybeans. Getting some of this amino acid every day will help you absorb calcium more efficiently
Health Tips about Vitamin K and Osteoporosis
Another vitamin not being given enough attention is vitamin K. I love this vitamin and worry that so many people are vitamin K deficient because they avoid eating it since they need to use blood thinners such as Coumadin. Vitamin K is of course a blood clotting agent, so if you are trying to avoid that because of heart health, you need to watch your vitamin K intake. But It’s oh so important for bone health. Now vitamin K is interesting because there are two kinds of it. K1 and K2. The first kind, we get from leafy greens, like spinach, kale, collard greens, the second kind we actually make in our bodies. It’s made from bacteria in our gut. If you do take blood thinners I would recommend that you make sure your get your vitamin K – BUT you need to get your INR and your prothrombin time checked regularly. The trick is to eat consistent amounts of vitamin K so that you can get the benefits of it and still keep your blood at the desired level of ‘thinness’.
I hope that this post has helped you with the information you need to keep your bones healthy and strong.
As always, please post any comments and I’ll get back with you ASAP.