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Good to the Bone

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Good to the Bone

The Osteoporosis Society of Canada estimates 1.4 million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis, and more women die every year as a result of osteoporotic fractures than from breast cancer and ovarian cancer combined.

The Osteoporosis Society of Canada estimates 1.4 million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis, and more women die every year as a result of osteoporotic fractures than from breast cancer and ovarian cancer combined.

Despite overwhelming evidence that osteoporosis is a preventable disease, many women and men fail to consume the nutrients–mainly calcium–that are proven to maintain bone mass.

While calcium and magnesium are the major ingredients for bone health, other critical minerals such as boron, zinc, copper, and manganese are essential minerals for maintaining healthy bone density, and may need to be supplemented for the long-term prevention of osteoporosis.

Without proper skeletal nutrient support, one can expect joint and bone challenges in later years; not just osteoporosis, but also arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic injury flare-ups. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (1999) shows that adequate calcium intake during the first two or three decades of life is important in establishing protective bone reserve.

Calcium–What is it Good For?

Calcium is not only important for bone health, it is vital in the formation of strong teeth, the maintenance of regular heartbeat, the transmission of nerve impulses, for blood clotting, and for lowering blood pressure. It is necessary for muscle growth and contraction, as well as for management of muscle cramps.

Dietary Dos and Don’ts

Insufficient vitamin D intake and excessive phosphorus and magnesium hinder the absorption of calcium. A diet high in protein, fat, and sugar also affects calcium uptake, and high intake of meat, refined grains, and soft drinks (high in phosphorus), may lead to increased bone loss in adults.

Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains–which contain significant amounts of calcium but lower amounts of phosphorus–should be consumed. Healthy calcium-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, almonds, salmon (with bones), dairy products, asparagus, blackstrap molasses, sardines, tofu, and sesame seeds.

Supplements

Calcium supplementation coupled with weight-bearing exercise is highly recommended for optimum bone health. Also, the balance of calcium and magnesium impacts on bone strength, nerve transmission, and heart function. Different diet types can alter the ratio you need. For people who have a diet high in processed food and meat, it is recommended the ratio of calcium to magnesium be 1:1; a 2:1 ratio is suitable for those who consume little to no dairy; and a 3:2 ratio is best for a balanced mixed diet.

There are many different types of calcium supplements available on health food store shelves, all with different degrees of absorption. One of the most absorbable forms of calcium is bisglycinate. In human studies outlined in the journal Calcified Tissue International (1990) calcium bisglycinate has been shown to absorb 180 percent more than calcium citrate.

While optimal nutrition is not a cure for osteoporosis, prevention is the most valuable tool available today. Bone and joint status can be enhanced through a combination of good diet (with no more than moderate daily protein intake), proper exercise to optimize calcium retention by bones, and appropriate supplementation.

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