We’ve all been there before, stagnant at the dinner table with moms voice in the background saying, “You can’t leave until you drink your milk and eat your veggies.” Well, turns out, you should have listened to your mother.
The latest research findings reveal that we have a relatively short window of opportunity to maximize our bone mineral acquisition (or bone density). Once we reach our mid-twenties bone density slowly decreases while bone mass continues to increase. Just to clear up some confusion, bone density occurs early in life until about our mid-twenties and it’s the composition of our bones. Bone mass is more about maintaining the strength and quality of our bone density after our mid-twenties. If you’re reading this and you are thirty or older, your body has most likely transitioned from maximizing bone density to maintaining strong bones.
I am just as guilty as the rest of us. When I was younger I was always playing a sport and busy being a teenager. Consuming adequate calcium and vitamin D daily wasn’t even on my mind. Only 42% of teenage boys and 13% of teenage girls get the recommended daily intake of calcium per day. However, there is some good news! While your window of opportunity may have expired to increase bone density, there are several things you can do to maintain strong bones.
Tips to strong bones:
· Continue to consistently consume calcium and vitamin D daily.
· Take it easy on the coffee or caffeine. Trust me, it pains me to recommend cutting back on coffee. I am a coffee lover but excessive amounts of caffeine can increase urinary calcium losses. However, if you consume adequate amounts of calcium through your diet, it shouldn’t be of concern.
· Pick up those weights! Consuming calcium without exercising won’t result in maximizing bone mass, just as eating large quantities of protein won’t result in strong muscles.
· Just as mom once said, drink your milk and eat your veggies.
o Sources of calcium: leafy greens such as kale, milk, yogurt, sardines, salmon, dry milk powder, and some fortified foods.
o Dietary vitamin D typically has a more exclusive list including salmon, tuna, eggs, fortified dairy, and shiitake mushrooms.
· Chill out on the added sodium (table salt). If you consistently eat out at restaurants or add salt to your food I’m talking to you. Sodium is important in your body but excessive amounts can not only lead to hypertension as age increases but also can increase urinary calcium excretion.
Gradually incorporate these tips into your lifestyle for long-lasting and sustainable lifestyle changes. It’s never too late to maintain your bone density!
Sources: Food and Nutrition Magazine – May/June 2016 Issue
SCAN Allison Bokenkotter is a new RD in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find her on LinkedIn: Allison Bokenkotter.