Postmenopausal women are at the highest risk for osteoporosis, a condition that means "porous bones" and causes decreased bone density that often leads to breaks and fractures. However, osteoporosis, and the painful breaks and fractures associated with it, should not be an inevitable part of aging for women.
We often associate healthy bones with calcium, and calcium with dairy products. While calcium is needed to maintain healthy bones, it is not the only thing your body needs to maintain strong and healthy bones. Dairy products are also not the only source of calcium available.
Your teeth and bones contain 99% of the calcium in your body, and the other 1% is in your blood and other tissues. Your body can get this 1% of calcium two different ways:
From food, drink, and supplements consumed
By taking it from your bones
If a person does not get enough calcium, their body will take it from deposits in their bones. If this happens, the calcium a person consumes later will go to the bones. However, if a person does not get enough calcium, then the calcium that was taken from the bones is not returned, and this can become a dangerous cycle that leads to low bone density and osteoporosis.
It is debated whether or not milk is the best source of calcium, especially with the advent of nutrient fortification. Many people are lactose intolerant, so it is important to either take pills that help the body digest lactose, or get dairy from another source. Dark leafy greens, beans, and legumes are also good sources of dairy. Some products, such as soymilk and orange juice, are also fortified with calcium.
Vitamin D helps improve the absorption of calcium, and researchers say that vitamin D is just as important for bone health as calcium. Studies show that calcium intake is not nearly as effective if not taken alongside Vitamin D. However, vitamin D is not found in high levels in many foods, and it is usually synthesized when a person is exposed to sunlight. If you live in an area or have a lifestyle where you do not get much sun exposure, it may be a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement or look for vitamin-D fortified foods.
Vitamin K is found in dark, leafy greens such as spinach, collards, mustard greens, dandelion greens, beet greens, mustard greens, and kale. Low levels of vitamin K in the body have been linked to low bone density. Research also shows that women who have diets rich in vitamin K are at a lower risk for breaking a hip due to osteoporosis than other women.
Dietary Tips to Fight Osteoporosis
While calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K are vital to prevent osteoporosis, these are not the only things that can help prevent bone density loss. Doing regular weight-bearing exercise, being in a healthy weight range, getting enough protein and vitamin A, and limiting soda and caffeine intake can also improve bone health and density. Click on the following link to read more information about treatments for osteoporosis.