Maintain a strong skeleton
Carolyn DeMarco, MD
Our bones are dynamic living tissues. Since our bone mass peaks at 24, children and teens need a diet rich in bone-building nutrients to strengthen their bones.
Our 206 bones are dynamic living tissue. Within our bones, there is a balance between the cells that build up bone and those that tear it down. Both processes are essential for optimal bone health.
Our bone mass peaks at age 24, with 80 percent formed between ages one and 20. Children and teens need a good diet that is rich in bone-building nutrients and plenty of bone-strengthening exercise to launch into adult life with a bone advantage.
For those who cannot obtain enough calcium from their diets, bone-building supplements can be taken at suppertime or four to five hours before bedtime. Assuming an average daily dietary intake of 700 mg, most adults are advised to supplement with 500 mg of calcium daily.
The most absorbable forms of calcium are calcium formate, citrate-malate, and bis-glycinate.
The conductor of the whole bone-building symphony, vitamin D drives bone health by enabling calcium absorption into bone cells while preventing calcium loss from the intestines and kidney.
By mid-winter most Canadians have depleted their stores of vitamin D, and as we age our capacity to form vitamin D from sun exposure declines. More than 50 percent of people with osteoporosis are deficient in vitamin D.
I recommend 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day for adults up to age 70 and 2,000 IU for those over 70.
Vitamins K1 and K2
Other star instruments in bone building are vitamins K1 and K2. The first is found in dark green leafy vegetables, but also consuming fermented foods such as yogourt or sauerkraut will aid in the conversion of K1 to its active form, K2, which aids in formation of protein complexes that chaperone calcium into bone-building cells.
A healthy alkaline diet is essential to bone health. The pigments found in fruits and vegetables contribute to an alkaline diet and directly stimulate bone-building cells. If you do not eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, consider taking a green drink daily.
A diet rich in these nutrients, accompanied by bone-strengthening exercise, will keep your skeleton strong for life.
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