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Good bone health

Good bone health
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Calcium and vitamin D are the two main nutrients that help build strong bones. They both work together to support bones and promote bone growth. Preserving good bone health is vital at all stages in life, especially after age 50, when bones can become weaker due to the loss of calcium and other minerals, which can potentially lead to osteoporosis.

According to Osteoporosis Australia, 1.2 million people have the disease and a further 6.3 million have low bone density.  Currently, there are effective therapies to treat the condition, some of which involve medication. However, prevention can be the best form of treatment.

Medical experts share the 40 ways that help lower your risk for osteoporosis, from adding more calcium to your diet to testing your bones.

Know your risk

Know your risk
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Osteoporosis is characterised by weak bones that are more likely to break. “The main concern in osteoporosis is the increased risk of fractures,” says Dr Amy Laude. “Using the FRAX [Fracture Risk Assessment] tool you can calculate your own risk of having an osteoporosis-related fracture.” Some factors that increase your risk include a slender body frame, a family history of osteoporosis, and ethnicity, since Caucasian and Asian cultures have a higher risk for osteoporosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a family history of the disease may lead to earlier screening.

Choose calcium

Choose calcium
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The osteoporosis definition is a significant loss of bone mineral, and the primary bone mineral at stake is calcium, says Dr Jonathan Lee. “Approximately 99.5 per cent of the body’s calcium supply is stored in bone,” he says. “When more calcium is needed, the bone is called upon to release some of its supply – if it is not adequately restored, bone becomes brittle.” Osteoporosis Australia recommends women and men get 1000 mg of elemental calcium a day during midlife. The need rises to 1300 daily after age 50 in women and after age 70 in men.

Here are some simple things you can do daily to boost your bones.

Drink your milk

Drink your milk
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“The best way to get the recommended amount of calcium is through the diet,” says Dr Abby Abelson.  “Calcium from milk and other dairy products are usually well-absorbed, and a rough estimate of the amount of calcium is 300 mg per serving – for example, an 8-ounce [1 cup] glass of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium.” Low-fat and skim milk, non-fat yoghurt, and reduced-fat cheeses (except cottage cheese) are healthy sources of the calcium you need to build strong bones.

Start on calcium young

Start on calcium young
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Although we think of it as a disease that affects older people, one way how to prevent osteoporosis is to begin at an early age. “Remember that we reach our peak bone mass by age 25 to 30, so it is especially important for young people to get enough calcium,” Dr Laude says. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that children aged 12 to 18 years get 1300 mg a day.

Eat greens with gusto

Eat greens with gusto
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Leafy green vegetables have lots of calcium – plus the potassium and vitamin K you need to block calcium loss from bones. “Other sources of calcium for those who are lactose intolerant include green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, as well as cooked turnip greens, dried figs, orange or fruit juice with added calcium and oranges,” says Kathy Mulford, director of the Bone Health Centre at the University of Maryland.  Also try bok choy and Swiss chard.

Vegetables are essential for good health, here are some sign that you may not be getting enough.

 

Go fish

Go fish
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Canned sardines and salmon, eaten with their bones, are also rich in calcium. A 90 gram serve of canned red salmon contains 203 mg of calcium making it a beneficial food for bone building.  “Some fish, such as salmon, contain a source of vitamin D that helps your body to use calcium to build bone” says dietician and fitness expert Erin Palinski-Wade.

Mackerel and other oily fish are rich in vitamin D.

 

 

Consider calcium supplements

Consider calcium supplements
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Are you getting enough calcium? If you’re not consuming as much as you should be through your diet, you can take a supplement. But because the body can absorb only a limited amount of calcium at once, take supplements in two or three doses during the day, preferably with meals. “It is best to divide calcium intake into no more than 500 mg at a time throughout the day,” Dr Abelson says.

Find out how to make vitamins and minerals work better for you.

 

There’s such a thing as too much calcium

There’s such a thing as too much calcium
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Among the vitamin mistakes you might not realise you’re making is actually getting too much calcium. “We have conflicting data on whether or not calcium supplements increase risk of kidney stones and cardiovascular disease, such as strokes and heart attacks,” Dr Laude says. “Calcium obtained through the diet does not appear to increase risk, so aim to get most of your calcium through food and drink.” Add up about how much calcium you’re getting through your diet, then add supplements only as needed – Dr Abelson recommends not exceeding 2000 mg per day in total.

Take vitamin D

Take vitamin D
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If you’re taking a supplement, make sure it contains vitamin D. “Vitamin D is required for the body to successfully absorb calcium from the gastrointestinal tract,” Dr Lee says. In addition to supplements, “good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and milk fortified with vitamin D.” It’s best obtained through food sources, but it can be difficult to get a sufficient amount through diet, Dr Abelson says.

Besides being a source of vitamin D, here are some “facts” about eggs that are an absolute yolk.

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