Even though your bones serve as the scaffolding that supports your body, you might not give those all-important bones a second thought until something goes wrong with them. Nutritional imbalances can contribute to bone-thinning conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis, raising your risks for fractures and collapsed vertebrae.
Fortunately, you can improve and maintain the health of your bones by feeding your bones with the nutrients they need most. Depending on your diet, lifestyle, and baseline health, you may get these nutrients from food or supplements as directed by your physician. Pay special attention to the following four vitamins and minerals.
The human body contains more calcium than it does any other mineral, with nearly all of this mineral residing in your bones. The more calcium your bones can absorb, the greater your bone density and the less trouble you may have with degenerative skeletal conditions such as osteoporosis.
Most adults should get between 1000 to 1200 milligrams of calcium daily. Since your body can only absorb a portion of this amount at any given time, you'll want to consume that daily dose in installments over the course of the day. Food sources include dairy products, dark leafy greens, kelp, and turnips.
If you need more calcium that your daily diet can provide, supplements can help. However, the type of calcium may make a difference in how much of the mineral your body can easily use. To ensure maximum absorption, look for supplements that feature calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, or calcium citrate.
Magnesium makes a natural complement to calcium, with both minerals working together to boost bone density and help you steer clear of osteoporosis. The fact that your body depends on magnesium for hundreds of other functions as well makes it critical for everyday health. Unfortunately, many people don't consume enough magnesium.
Because magnesium and calcium balance each other, you want to consume both minerals in the right ratios to maintain your bone health. If you take supplements, aim for a ratio of approximately two parts calcium to one part magnesium. Some bone health supplements may already contain the right ratio of both nutrients.
3. Vitamin D
Just as calcium and magnesium collaborate to protect your bones, so do calcium and Vitamin D. Much of the calcium you ingest may go to waste by forming kidney stones or simply passing right through if your body fails to absorb it. Vitamin D aids in this absorption so more of the calcium can go to your bones.
Your body can actually produce its own supply of Vitamin D, a process triggered by exposure to sunlight. However, not everyone can spend sufficient time in the sun to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. You can get additional Vitamin D through fortified dairy products, fatty fish, or eggs. You can also take it in supplement form.
4. Vitamin K
Vitamin K may not receive as much media attention as better-known nutrients, but this fat-soluble vitamin plays important roles in many aspects of health. In addition to aiding in blood clotting and supporting a healthy heart, Vitamin K helps the body produce proteins essential for strong bones.
This vitamin comes in two forms. You can get Vitamin K1 by eating soybean products, canola oil, and green leafy vegetables, while primary sources of Vitamin K2 include dairy products, meat, and fermented foods such as natto. Vitamins K1 and K2 may appear in bone health or multivitamin supplements.
Researchers have yet to reach firm conclusions about supplemental Vitamin K's effects on bone density, However, studies have demonstrated people who suffer from Vitamin K deficiency run a greater risk of developing low bone density and the complications this problem can cause.
If your bones could use some help in the nutrition department, turn to Beyond Health. We offer a wide range of vitamin and mineral supplements, including products specially formulated with bone health like our Bone Mineral Formula.