Having a strong frame is essential to your overall health and it doesn't matter what your age is. It's never too early, or too late, to take care of and protect your bones. Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian and the host of Food Network's "Health Appetite." She has some advice to "bone up" on good health.
Teens and twenties
Your body continues to build bone mass through your twenties. Bone is like a bank account; now is time to deposit as much as you can.
- Get 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day for calcium, vitamin D and protein, all important for healthy bones. Teen-friendly ways to get dairy: smoothies, caffeine-free lattes, flavored milks, string cheese.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C like oranges, strawberries, broccoli and red peppers. Vitamin C helps collagen production, which provides the structure for bones.
- Drink too much soda, coffee or alcohol.
A little is OK, but they are all associated weaker bones when consumed in excess.
Eat healthfully but avoid extreme dieting, which can rob bones of important nutrients.
Thirties and forties
Your body stops building bone at about thirty, so now's the time to work on keeping your bone “savings”
- Supplement your diet. In addition to your basic multivitamin take a separate bone supplement that contains calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K, all critical for bone health. Take it separately from your multivitamin for better absorption.
- Include nondairy calcium sources: dark-green vegetables (spinach, bok choy, collard greens, kale), beans and soy. They also have other bone-essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, B vitamins and magnesium
- Be sedentary
In your thirties and forties life has many demands and activity often falls by the wayside. Weight-bearing exercise like walking is key for bone maintenance.
Fifties and sixties
Once you pass menopause, estrogen levels drop and so does bone mass. Now is time to minimize your losses.
- Get enough healthy protein
Higher protein is associated with less bone loss. There is evidence that soy protein and walnuts may be particularly bone-sustaining choices. Also include fish at least twice a week.
- Get a bone scan.
- Increase calcium and vitamin D supplement amounts. Your need about 300 mg calcium more a day than premenopausally, and you need twice the vitamin D because your body doesn’t absorb and make it as well.
- Get too much salt
Sodium can trigger calcium excretion. Aim for no more than 2300 mg a day. Eat mostly fresh, unprocessed foods, and choose low-sodium varieties of canned and frozen foods.
Here are some healthy and tasty recipes from Ellie Krieger:
Recipe: Pita pizzas (on this page)
Recipe: Chickpea and spinach salad with cumin dressing (on this page)
Recipe: Yogurt with orange essence (on this page)