ABC Nutrition on Strong Women!

Is Calcium Really All Women Need for Strong Bones?

Calcium is a hot topic pertaining to women’s health. The International Osteoporosis Foundation states that “Osteoporosis and low bone mass are currently estimated to be a major public health threat for almost 44 million U.S. women.” This number is projected to increase rapidly. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the whole body. When there is not enough in a womens diet, calcium is taken from bones. Over time, osteopenia and osteoporosis may emerge due to loss of bone mass.

Calcium is not the one and only nutrient needed for healthy bones. The exciting news is that through diet and lifestyle changes, women can reduce their chances of bone injuries such as fractures and breaks. Read on to learn the ABC’s of how to increase calcium absorption in your diet.

A. Vitamin D- “AKA The Sunshine Vitamin” A woman's body can not absorb any calcium at all without the help of vitamin D. The only two sources of vitamin D come from the sun and our diets. Easy ways to add more vitamin D to your diet include eating more whole eggs (yes, the yolk too!). One large egg has 41 IU of the recommended intake which is 600 IU. Eggs are so versatile and can be added to any meal. For a double benefit, sprinkle a little cayenne pepper in the pan with your egg to boost metabolism and immune. Tuna is another great source of vitamin D. Make a healthy tuna salad for lunch using 3 ounces of canned tuna. Break the tuna up in a bowl with basil, celery, and lemon juice; try to substitute olive oil or avocado oil instead of using mayonnaise. Scoop the tuna salad onto gluten free bread and eat up!

B. Magnesium - Without magnesium, calcium can not be absorbed into the bones. Most people do not meet the recommended intake of 400 mg of magnesium a day. One medium avocado provides 58 mg of magnesium. Mash up the avocado and add some diced onion, tomato, and cilantro for a yummy guacamole dip. One large banana has about 37 mg of magnesium. Cut up some bananas in a plate with a tablespoon of almond butter for a 4 pm snack!

C. Vitamin K - Vitamin K is another one of many vitamins that assists with bone formation. This vitamin is found in all dark green leafy vegetables. The recommended intake is 90 mcg a day for women. A ½ cup of brussel sprouts is an excellent Vitamin K source with 78 mcg. Slice each Brussel sprout in halves long ways and toss in a bowl with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add your favorite seasonings; I prefer pink sea salt, rosemary, and oregano and roast in the oven. Prunes are also high in Vitamin K with 49 mcg in a ½ cup. Snack on these around 3 p.m. if you are in the mood for something sweet.

Although bone density loss is a serious problem for women, getting the nutrition we need from our food can be delicious. Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, and even other trace minerals are needed for the body to produce strong bones and teeth. Always eat a variety of whole foods to be sure you are getting nutrient dense meals!