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Bone health: It’s more than just calcium

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 10:28 a.m. CDT

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We all know that calcium is important for bone health. Most of us know that Vitamin D is needed as well. However, your skeletal health is also affected by a number of other vitamins and minerals in your diet, many that you most likely don’t even think about. Oct. 12-20 is Bone and Joint Health National Action Week. Let’s consider some of the other nutrients that are vital to our overall skeletal health.

Phosphate — A proportional amount of phosphate and calcium is needed for bone mineralization. If too much phosphorus is consumed with a low intake of calcium at the same time, bone loss may be the result. This contributes to a loss of bone density and mass. If you consume many phosphorus-containing foods, be sure you are also taking in adequate calcium, as well. Phosphorus-containing foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, nuts, legumes, cereals and grains.

Magnesium — Since more than 50 percent of the total magnesium in your body is found in bone, it would seem prudent to be sure that your diet contains an adequate amount of this mineral. Food sources include nuts, seeds, legumes, milled cereal grains, milk and dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage and dark lettuces.

Vitamin K — It appears that a low intake of this fat-soluble vitamin may increase the risk for bone fracture. Vitamin K is found in dark-green leafy vegetables, dairy products, meat and eggs.

Vitamin A — For many years, this vitamin has been considered beneficial for skeletal health. In the past several years, however, it has been suggested that the vitamin A derived from the carotenoids found in plant sources may be your best bet, especially for postmenopausal women. These carotenoids can be found in dark-green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and yellow-orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots, orange juice, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, squash and peaches.

Copper and Iron — Both are essential bone health and can be found in lean meat, poultry and seafood, organ meats such as liver, kidney and heart, dried beans and peas, whole grain and enriched breads and cereals and dried fruits. Copper is also found in chocolate and nuts, and egg yolks and dark molasses are sources of iron.

Manganese — The formation of the bone matrix needs manganese. Food sources of manganese include whole grains, nuts, legumes, tea, instant coffee, fruits and vegetables.

Zinc –— This mineral is necessary for collagen synthesis. It is found in meat, poultry and fish, fortified and whole grain cereals, milk and milk products, shellfish, liver, dried beans and nuts.

Other Dietary Considerations

Dietary Fiber — A high intake of fiber may interfere with calcium absorption. This is usually not an issue for most Americans, however. It may impact vegans who generally consume 50 grams or more of fiber/day.

Protein and Sodium — Excessive consumption of animal protein and of sodium may cause an increase in the excretion of calcium from the body.

Soy — Soy may have a protective effect for osteoporosis and hip fractures.

Alcohol and tobacco usage — These two habits as well as a poor diet may be linked to an increased risk of bone loss.

Work to include a well-balanced diet with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, whole grains and lean protein foods to keep your bones and joints as healthy and strong as you can.

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