I have to admit I never really considered bone health. Not mine, anyway. Brittle bones were for little old grannies hobbling around with a cane, not capable multitaskers like me. What I didn’t know—until I slipped on a patch of black ice and my leg shattered like glass—was just how important it is to think about strengthening your bones before a disaster happens. It turns out that as you age, and especially near menopause, there’s a sudden drop in calcium in your body that can lead to a deficiency that puts your bones at risk.
According to Sarah Berneche, a very knowledgeable nutritionist who is part of my League rehab team, there are some simple things we women can do to keep our bones strong and healthy. And I’m doing them. Pronto.
Before you find out the hard way just how vital bone health is to your well-being, read the info that Sarah gave me then do yourself a huge favour and learn from it. Otherwise, you may just end up like me, laid up for months googling How to Prevent Osteoporosis and pretty much freaking yourself out.
TIPS FOR ESSENTIAL BONE HEALTH FOR WOMEN OVER 35
DID YOU KNOW?
- When discussing bone health, calcium is probably the most commonly discussed nutrient
- The major cause of osteoporosis is calcium deficiency due to inadequate absorption, and not inadequate intake
- The single best form of prevention is a diet rich in a wide variety of whole foods
- Our bones require a spectrum of nutrients for optimal health, especially Omega-3, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, and Manganese
- Regular weight bearing exercises help keep bones healthy
- Chiropractors can assist in the maintenance of a sound skeletal frame
- Many factors can also influence bone health, such as smoking, drugs, alcohol, hormonal imbalances
- Osteoporosis is more common among Caucasian and Asian women
THE 7 BONE NUTRIENTS
Calcium definitely helps keep bones strong but milk is not enough. Our bones require a spectrum of nutrients for optimal health. This is not an exhaustive list, but some of the heavy hitters include the 7 nutrients featured in this slideshow.
Get Strong Girl!
The 7 Nutrients You Need for Bone Health
Required for absorption and use of calcium by the body, magnesium is found in fresh vegetables, seeds, nuts._End your day with 1-2 tsp of Natural Calm dissolved in water (take 1 hour or so before bed)._
VITAMIN D3 (or D2 for vegetarians)
This important vitamin promotes bone growth and bone remodeling. You can get it from sun exposure and also from foods such as cod liver oil, egg yolks, liver, and fish
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
These are the good fats. They help with calcium assimilation, and include such foods as hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia sees, E3 live (green algae), chlorella, spirulina, wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, grass-fed/pastured beef. _You absolutely need healthy fats to use calcium._
Essential to bone metabolism, manganese works as a co-factor in a number of processes in the body. You can find it in lots of foods you're probably already eating: nuts, green leafy vegetables, peas, beets, egg yolk, whole grains, bananas, bran, celery, legumes, liver, and pineapple.
Not to be confused with K1, this vitamin helps to build healthy bones. It's found in natto and animal products such as egg yolk, cheeses, butter, and chicken, and ground beef.
Around 30% of our bones are composed of organic compounds, 90-95% of which is collagen. Vital Proteins collagen supplements are great, or you can consume bone broth.
We all know we need vitamin C but why? It is required by the body to manufacture collagen. You can get it from fruit and vegetables, or you can supplement with a buffered form starting with 500mg and increasing to bowel tolerance.
DO WE NEED SUPPLEMENTS FOR OUR BONES?
If you’ve got a family history of osteoporosis or if you’re small-framed and are therefore more likely to develop osteoporosis, consider a bone health supplement such as AOR Bone Basics or Natural Calm Cal/Mag. Supplementation is recommended for menopausal women. Why? Studies have shown that bones really take a hit approximately 5-7 years after menopause. That means you’re in the danger zone somewhere between 57-60 years of age on average, but for some women, this process can start earlier. So what can we do?
TOP CALCIUM SOURCES
1. Tahini. This sesame seed paste is a favourite source of calcium and excellent for bone health. Note: 2 tbsp / 1oz has 130mg of calcium
2. Plain yogurt. Try Best Baa sheep’s yogurt, which is easier to digest than cow’s dairy
3. Leafy greens: spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, broccoli
4. Grains, legumes, and fruit like kiwi
5. Milk with milk fat.
Note: Skim milk, despite popular belief, is not a good source of calcium because it does not contain magnesium or fat
If you’re looking for a delicious way to get your calcium, try kale salad. Lucky us! Sarah shared her favourite recipe: SB SIGNATURE
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 head of kale, ideally organic and local (I use curly)
- ⅓ cup tahini, ideally raw and organic
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast (you can find this at some grocery stores and health food stores – it adds a cheesy flavour to dishes and is often used in vegan recipes)
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar, such as Braggs or Filsinger’s
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅛ tsp Himalayan pink sea salt or other sea salt
WHAT YOU DO
- Wash and dry the kale, and tear or slice it into bite-sized pieces.
- Whisk together the tahini, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, and salt. Add garlic.
- Toss in the dry kale and massage the dressing until well combined. Taste and adjust accordingly—more apple cider vinegar for a tangier dressing, more tahini, more salt, etc.
- Serve or refrigerate for up to 3 days.