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8 Ways to Support Your Bone Health through Nutrition and Lifestyle

One of my specialty areas in my functional nutrition practice is bone health. This passion was fueled by many personal events in my life. If you are interested in reading more on my story, please see “My Bone Health Story” on my website, I will share an inspiring Part 2 soon as well.

The purpose of this blog, however,  is to give you actionable steps that you can implement to keep your bones strong. When most people think about bone health, they just think about calcium which is important but there is so much more to bone health. Bones are living tissue made of a protein collagen matrix. Essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium and more fill in within this matrix to maximize our bone quality and bone density. Please note that you can have good bone quality without maximum bone density. Many people have had a bone mineral density scan through a DXA scan. Ideally, we also want to look at bone quality through a TBS score (Trabecular Bone Score) or a R.E.M.S. (Radiofrequency Echographic Multi Spectrometry) study which is what I personally do.  It is ultrasound technology that can look closer at the quality of the bone architecture.

Did you know that your bones have the ability to continue to remodel no matter what age we are? We have to provide the nutrition and proper conditions to support this process, however. If you are ready to take action, here are some of the top things you can do!

1. Focus on a diverse diet that is full of nutrient dense whole foods. Make your plate half anti-inflammatory non-starchy vegetables that are every color of the rainbow. Also include whole fruits, legumes, and smaller portions of whole grains.

2. Make sure you have plenty of protein at each meal. This is an area that so many people are deficient in and it is absolutely essential for bone health and to prevent sar- copenia which is muscle wasting. Your goal should be 1.2- 1.5 g/kg of body weight. This is an average of about 30 grams per meal. Choose organically grown beans and lentils, free-range chicken and pasture raised chicken and eggs as well as wild-caught fish, Greek yogurt, nuts and nut butters.

3. Include foods high in omega-3 fats. Many people have a diet that is high in omega-6 fats and low in omega-3’s. Good sources of omega-3’s are wild caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring. Include cold-pressed organic olive and av- ocado oil as well. Plant sources include chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.

4. Optimize your digestion. It isn’t just what we eat but what we digest and absorb when it comes to nutrients.

• Focus on mindful eating - Avoid distracted eating (i.e., looking at a phone, computer, TV or driving while eating). Sit down at a table and take a few deep breaths. Look at your food. Seeing and smelling your food activates our salivary glands to start the process of digestion.

• Chew your food thoroughly - Chewing your food thoroughly helps to break it down into smaller pieces, which makes it easier for your digestive system to process. It also stimulates the production of saliva, which contains enzymes that help to digest carbohydrates. If you do not chew your food properly, this may cause intestinal gas, bloating and malabsorption of nutrients.

• Stay hydrated - Drinking enough water is essential for good diges- tion and bone health. Water helps to soften stools, prevent constipa- tion, and keep the digestive system functioning properly. Limit fluids during meals, however, in order to prevent your stomach contents from being too diluted which could impair digestion. I recommend investing in a good quality water filter.

5. Get adequate calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K2.

Calcium - Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body and it makes up about 2 % of the skeleton system. Good dietary sources of calcium include:

➤ Dairy products: cheese and low-sugar Greek yogurt.

➤ Leafy green vegetables: Kale, broccoli, and bok choy.

➤ Fish: Especially those with soft, edible bones like canned salmon and sardines.

➤ Fortified foods: Some cereals, juices, and plant-based milk alternatives are fortified with calcium.

➤ Nuts and seeds: Almonds and chia seeds.

➤ Legumes: Beans and lentils.

Including a variety of these foods in your diet can help ensure an adequate intake of calcium for bone health and overall well-being. The goal for most people is 1200-1500mg per day. Your body only absorbs about 500 mg of calcium efficiently at a time. I prefer an algae-based complex bone health calcium supplement to ensure someone meets their calcium need to be taken into consideration when dosing.

Vitamin D - Vitamin D is essential for our body to absorb calcium. It is essential for our muscle strength and supports a healthy immune system. There are many factors that impact our Vitamin D level, including sun exposure which is one of the best ways to get Vitamin D. Genetics, age, skin-col- or, diet and digestion also play important roles.. The best way to know your Vitamin D level is to have it checked. The optimal level for bone health is 60- 80 ng/ml. We do not want it too high or too low. If you need to supplement, make sure your supplement has Vita- min K2 in it as well.

Vitamin K - Vitamin K plays a crucial role in the body in relation to bone health and blood clotting. It comes in different forms: K1 and K2.

Vitamin K2 is involved in the regula- tion of calcium within the body. It helps to ensure that calcium is properly de- posited in bones and teeth, contributing to bone mineralization and strength. Vitamin K2 activates proteins that help regulate calcium in the arteries and soft tissues. We want calcium to go to our skeletal system and away from our arteries, soft tissues and kidneys. Like vitamin D, there are many factors that impact Vitamin K2 including digestion and genetics.

Sources of Vitamin K2 include fermented foods like natto, certain chees- es, and animal products from animals that have been fed a diet rich in vitamin K2 but most people will need to get it from a supplement. Always check with your doctor if you are on a blood thin- ner. K2 cannot be taken with warfarin but can be used with newer blood thinners.

Magnesium - Magnesium is essential for bone health as it plays several important roles in maintaining bone density and strength.

Magnesium is a vital cofactor for the enzymes involved in bone formation. It works with other minerals like calcium and phosphorus to support the structural development of bones. Magnesium helps in the proper deposition of calcium into the bone matrix. This is crucial for the formation of a strong and mineralized bone. Magnesium aids in the absorption of calcium in the intestines. Adequate magnesium levels can enhance the utilization of dietary calcium for bone health.

Ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium through a balanced diet that includes foods like leafy green vegeta-bles, nuts, seeds, and whole grains is important for overall bone health.

Many people do need to supple- ment to meet their bone health needs. The most important take-away is that the supplement should have the right balance of all nutrients. There are so many more nutrients required for bone health including vitamin C, Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Zinc and more.

6. Manage stress! Excessive stress raises inflammation in our body. Often,we cannot control the events in our life that are causing us stress but it is a lifelong process of learning to control how our body reacts to it! Movement, prayer, meditation, and/or breath work all are key!

7. Perform weight bearing and strength training exercises - Always check with your doctor before you begin any physical activity program. Weight bearing exercise like walking keeps bones from breaking down and the resistance of weight training can help activate the bone building “osteoblast” cells. This can include yoga, barre, Pilates and structured weight training.

8. Evaluate your environment - Simply acts like properly washing your fruits and vegetables, avoiding plastic and filtering our water can make a big difference in our health including bone health. Pesticides, herbicides, plastics, fluoride, heavy metals and more disrupt our endocrine system, deplete minerals and interfere with bone remodeling.

Living a full and active life is what we all strive for! Taking steps every day to keep your body and bones strong will support vitality for years to come.


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