Osteoporosis is a condition in which our bones gradually become weak and fragile. This is basically an age related disorder that is caused due to decreased bone mass, which causes the bones to become porous and increases its susceptibility to fracture.
Osteoporosis typically affects the hips, spine and wrist. It is often referred to as ‘silent disease’ as bone strength is lost gradually and there is hardly any symptom of pain before you realize that you have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis develops due to low level of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals which are needed to keep the bones strong. While women experiencing menopause are more vulnerable to osteoporosis, men too can suffer from this condition after the age of 50. You can prevent osteoporosis by building strong bones at a young age. However, it can also be treated by taking calcium enriched diet, medication, regular exercise and natural therapies.
Besides genetic predisposition, lack of proper nutrition in your diet is also responsible for osteoporosis. According to physicians, eating healthy foods is absolutely necessary to prevent and treat bone loss. Once you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, proper food choice is the most important part of your treatment recommended by your health advisor.
Calcium Enriched Diet
The best way to fight and treat osteoporosis is to take a diet that essentially contains sufficient amounts of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, trace minerals and vitamin K2 which are bone building nutrients. For the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, calcium is the most important nutrient. Try to get 1000 to1300 mg of calcium per day from your diet. The shortfall can be covered by taking calcium supplements along with calcium that contains the additional ingredient that strengthens bone. The best food sources from where you can get calcium are low fat milk and cheese, fat-free plain yogurt, soybeans, calcium-fortified tofu, collard greens, white beans, almonds, kale and broccoli.
Vitamin D is required by the body to absorb the calcium you are taking efficiently. Vitamin D helps calcium to travel to different parts of body. Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight but we tend to avoid too much sun exposure to protect our skin from the UV rays of the sun and like to get it from food and supplements. Some foods that contain vitamin D are fatty fishes like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, soy milk, yogurt, egg yolk and UV treated mushrooms. As there are very few foods from where you can get vitamin D, take vitamin D supplements or multivitamins that contain vitamin D. Doctors recommend 800 to1000 IU as daily requirement of vitamin D for healthy adults.
Magnesium is equally important for your bone health. Magnesium and calcium jointly work to strengthen the bones. This mineral plays a supporting role in treating and preventing osteoporosis. Magnesium works to counter balance metabolic acid and absorb calcium by the body and strengthen the bones. The food sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, brown rice, millet, spinach, cashew, sesame seeds, sweet potatoes, flaxseed, beans and wheat germ.
Potassium helps in slowing down the degeneration of bone mineral density that befalls as you age. Potassium can be obtained from various fruits, vegetables and other foods. The foods that are excellent for your bone health and contain significant amount of potassium along with other nutrients are apricots, cantaloupe, papaya, banana, honeydew melon, prunes, plums, avocados, raisins, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, almonds, pistachios and beans.
Recent studies have found that vitamin K2 is also important for your bone health. It helps to slow down the process of bone loss and risk of fracture later in your life. This vitamin is needed for the formation of osteocalcin, which is a kind of protein found in the bone. Vitamin K is not produced by the body naturally. You must get it from your diet. Proper intake of vitamin K can lower the risk of fracture. So include vitamin K rich green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, parsley, okra and watercress in your diet. If you are taking medication for blood thinning, then consult your doctor before incorporating them in your diet because vitamin K is considered as the natural blood thinner.
Studies reveal that eating vitamin C rich foods can slow down the process of bone loss and help the body to produce collagen – a protein that contributes in strengthening bones. Such foods include oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple, guava, mango, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, hot chili peppers, Brussels sprouts and summer squash etc.
Weight-bearing exercises like walking, climbing stairs, running, dancing, playing tennis, yoga etc. in which the body tries to work against the gravity can help to treat and prevent osteoporosis. Forcing your bones to work against gravity encourages your body to produce and increase bone cells and bone mass and make them stronger. So exercise regularly. Guard your body against osteoporosis by incorporating these bone building nutrients in your diet.
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