How to make bones stronger with MyTea Magic
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10 Natural Ways to Build Healthy Bones
Building healthy bones is extremely important.
Minerals are incorporated into your bones during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Once you reach 30 years of age, you have achieved peak bone mass.
If not enough bone mass is created during this time or bone loss occurs later in life, you have an increased risk of developing fragile bones that break easily (1).
Fortunately, many nutrition and lifestyle habits can help you build strong bones and maintain them as you age.
Here are 10 natural ways to build healthy bones.
1. Eat Lots of Vegetables
Vegetables are great for your bones.
They’re one of the best sources of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of bone-forming cells. In addition, some studies suggest that vitamin C’s antioxidant effects may protect bone cells from damage (2).
Vegetables also seem to increase bone mineral density, also known as bone density.
Bone density is a measurement of the amount of calcium and other minerals found in your bones. Both osteopenia (low bone mass) and osteoporosis (brittle bones) are conditions characterized by low bone density.
A high intake of green and yellow vegetables has been linked to increased bone mineralization during childhood and the maintenance of bone mass in young adults (3, 4, 5).
Eating lots of vegetables has also been found to benefit older women.
A study in women over 50 found those who consumed onions most frequently had a 20% lower risk of osteoporosis, compared to women who rarely ate them (6).
One major risk factor for osteoporosis in older adults is increased bone turnover, or the process of breaking down and forming new bone (7).
In a three-month study, women who consumed more than nine servings of broccoli, cabbage, parsley or other plants high in bone-protective antioxidants had a decrease in bone turnover (8).
Summary: Consuming a diet high in vegetables has been shown to help create healthy bones during childhood and protect bone mass in young adults and older women.
2. Perform Strength Training and Weight-Bearing Exercises
Engaging in specific types of exercise can help you build and maintain strong bones.
One of the best types of activity for bone health is weight-bearing or high-impact exercise, which promotes the formation of new bone.
Studies in children, including those with type 1 diabetes, have found that this type of activity increases the amount of bone created during the years of peak bone growth (9, 10).
In addition, it can be extremely beneficial for preventing bone loss in older adults.
Studies in older men and women who performed weight-bearing exercise showed increases in bone mineral density, bone strength and bone size, as well as reductions in markers of bone turnover and inflammation (11, 12, 13, 14).
However, one study found little improvement in bone density among older men who performed the highest level of weight-bearing exercise over nine months (15).
Strength-training exercise is not only beneficial for increasing muscle mass. It may also help protect against bone loss in younger and older women, including those with osteoporosis, osteopenia or breast cancer (16, 17, 18, 19, 20).
One study in men with low bone mass found that although both resistance training and weight-bearing exercise increased bone density in several areas of the body, only resistance training had this effect in the hip (21).
Summary: Performing weight-bearing and resistance training exercises can help increase bone formation during bone growth and protect bone health in older adults, including those with low bone density.
3. Consume Enough Protein
Getting enough protein is important for healthy bones. In fact, about 50% of bone is made of protein.
Researchers have reported that low protein intake decreases calcium absorption and may also affect rates of bone formation and breakdown (22).
However, concerns have also been raised that high-protein diets leach calcium from bones in order to counteract increased acidity in the blood.
Nevertheless, studies have found that this doesn’t occur in people who consume up to 100 grams of protein daily, as long as this is balanced with plenty of plant foods and adequate calcium intake (23, 24).
In fact, research suggests that older women, in particular, appear to have better bone density when they consume higher amounts of protein (25, 26, 27).
In a large, six-year observational study of over 144,000 postmenopausal women, higher protein intake was linked to a lower risk of forearm fractures and significantly higher bone density in the hip, spine and total body (27).
What’s more, diets containing a greater percentage of calories from protein may help preserve bone mass during weight loss.
In a one-year study, women who consumed 86 grams of protein daily on a calorie-restricted diet lost less bone mass from their arm, spine, hip and leg areas than women who consumed 60 grams of protein per day (28).
Summary: A low protein intake can lead to bone loss, while a high protein intake can help protect bone health during aging and weight loss.
4. Eat High-Calcium Foods Throughout the Day
Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health, and it’s the main mineral found in your bones.
Because old bone cells are constantly broken down and replaced by new ones, it’s important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength.
The RDI for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most people, although teens need 1,300 mg and older women require 1,200 mg (29).
However, the amount of calcium your body actually absorbs can vary greatly.
Interestingly, if you eat a meal containing more than 500 mg of calcium, your body will absorb much less of it than if you consume a lower amount.
Therefore, it’s best to spread your calcium intake throughout the day by including one high-calcium food from this list at each meal.
It’s also best to get calcium from foods rather than supplements.
A recent 10-year study of 1,567 people found that although high calcium intake from foods decreased the risk of heart disease overall, those who took calcium supplements had a 22% greater risk of heart disease (30).
Summary: Calcium is the main mineral found in bones and must be consumed every day to protect bone health. Spreading your calcium intake throughout the day will optimize absorption.
5. Get Plenty of Vitamin D and Vitamin K
Vitamin D and vitamin K are extremely important for building strong bones.
Vitamin D plays several roles in bone health, including helping your body absorb calcium. Achieving a blood level of at least 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l) is recommended for protecting against osteopenia, osteoporosis and other bone diseases (31).
Indeed, studies have shown that children and adults with low vitamin D levels tend to have lower bone density and are more at risk for bone loss than people who get enough (32, 33).
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is very common, affecting about one billion people worldwide (34).
You may be able to get enough vitamin D through sun exposure and food sources such as fatty fish, liver and cheese. However, many people need to supplement with up to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily to maintain optimal levels.
Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. This modification enables osteocalcin to bind to minerals in bones and helps prevent the loss of calcium from bones.
The two most common forms of vitamin K2 are MK-4 and MK-7. MK-4 exists in small amounts in liver, eggs and meat. Fermented foods like cheese, sauerkraut and a soybean product called natto contain MK-7.
A small study in healthy young women found that MK-7 supplements raised vitamin K2 blood levels more than MK-4 (35).
Nevertheless, other studies have shown that supplementing with either form of vitamin K2 supports osteocalcin modification and increases bone density in children and postmenopausal women (36, 37, 38, 39).
In a study of women 50ñ65 years of age, those who took MK-4 maintained bone density, whereas the group that received a placebo showed a significant decrease in bone density after 12 months (39).
However, another 12-month study found no significant difference in bone loss between women whose diets were supplemented with natto and those who did not take natto (40).
Summary: Getting adequate amounts of vitamins D and K2 from food or supplements may help protect bone health.
6. Avoid Very Low-Calorie Diets
Dropping calories too low is never a good idea.
In addition to slowing down your metabolism, creating rebound hunger and causing muscle mass loss, it can also be harmful to bone health.
Studies have shown that diets providing fewer than 1,000 calories per day can lead to lower bone density in normal-weight, overweight or obese individuals (41, 42, 43, 44).
In one study, obese women who consumed 925 calories per day for four months experienced a significant loss of bone density from their hip and upper thigh region, regardless of whether they performed resistance training (44).
To build and maintain strong bones, follow a well-balanced diet that provides at least 1,200 calories per day. It should include plenty of protein and foods rich in vitamins and minerals that support bone health.
Summary: Diets providing too few calories have been found to reduce bone density, even when combined with resistance exercise. Consume a balanced diet with at least 1,200 calories daily to preserve bone health.
7. Consider Taking a Collagen Supplement
While there isn’t a lot of research on the topic yet, early evidence suggests that collagen supplements may help protect bone health.
Collagen is the main protein found in bones. It contains the amino acids glycine, proline and lysine, which help build bone, muscle, ligaments and other tissues.
Collagen hydrolysate comes from animal bones and is commonly known as gelatin. It has been used to relieve joint pain for many years.
Although most studies have looked at collagen’s effects on joint conditions like arthritis, it appears to have beneficial effects on bone health as well (45, 46).
A 24-week study found that giving postmenopausal women with osteoporosis a combination of collagen and the hormone calcitonin led to a significant reduction in markers of collagen breakdown (46).
Summary: Emerging evidence suggests that supplementing with collagen may help preserve bone health by reducing collagen breakdown.
8. Maintain a Stable, Healthy Weight
In addition to eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight can help support bone health.
For example, being underweight increases the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
This is especially the case in postmenopausal women who have lost the bone-protective effects of estrogen.
In fact, low body weight is the main factor contributing to reduced bone density and bone loss in this age group (47, 48).
On the other hand, some studies suggest that being obese can impair bone quality and increase the risk of fractures due to the stress of excess weight (49, 50).
While weight loss typically results in some bone loss, it is usually less pronounced in obese individuals than normal-weight individuals (51).
Overall, repeatedly losing and regaining weight appears particularly detrimental to bone health, as well as losing a large amount of weight in a short time.
One recent study found that bone loss during weight loss was not reversed when weight was regained, which suggests that repeated cycles of losing and gaining weight may lead to significant bone loss over a person’s lifetime (52).
Maintaining a stable normal or slightly higher than normal weight is your best bet when it comes to protecting your bone health.
Summary: Being too thin or too heavy can negatively affect bone health. Furthermore, maintaining a stable weight, rather than repeatedly losing and regaining it, can help preserve bone density.
9. Include Foods High in Magnesium and Zinc
Calcium isn’t the only mineral that’s important for bone health. Several others also play a role, including magnesium and zinc.
Magnesium plays a key role in converting vitamin D into the active form that promotes calcium absorption (53).
An observational study of over 73,000 women found that those who consumed 400 mg of magnesium per day tended to have 2ñ3% higher bone density than women who consumed half this amount daily (54).
Although magnesium is found in small amounts in most foods, there are only a few excellent food sources. Supplementing with magnesium glycinate, citrate or carbonate may be beneficial.
Zinc is a trace mineral needed in very small amounts. It helps make up the mineral portion of your bones.
In addition, zinc promotes the formation of bone-building cells and prevents the excessive breakdown of bone.
Studies have shown that zinc supplements support bone growth in children and the maintenance of bone density in older adults (55, 56).
Good sources of zinc include beef, shrimp, spinach, flaxseeds, oysters and pumpkin seeds.
Summary: Magnesium and zinc play key roles in achieving peak bone mass during childhood and maintaining bone density during aging.
10. Consume Foods High in Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their anti-inflammatory effects.
They’ve also been shown to help protect against bone loss during the aging process (57, 58, 59).
In addition to including omega-3 fats in your diet, it’s also important to make sure your balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fats isn’t too high.
In one large study of over 1,500 adults aged 45ñ90, those who consumed a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids tended to have lower bone density than people with a lower ratio of the two fats (58).
Generally speaking, it’s best to aim for an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1 or lower.
In addition, although most studies have looked at the benefits of long-chain omega-3 fats found in fatty fish, one controlled study found that omega-3 plant sources helped decrease bone breakdown and increase bone formation (59).
Plant sources of omega-3 fats include chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.
Summary: Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to promote the formation of new bone and protect against bone loss in older adults.
The Bottom Line
Bone health is important at all stages of life.
However, having strong bones is something people tend to take for granted, as symptoms often don’t appear until bone loss is advanced.
Fortunately, there are many nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help build and maintain strong bones ó and it’s never too early to start.
11 Foods for Healthy Bones
What are the best foods for healthy bones? Eat these to help fight osteoporosis.
January 25, 2014
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Build a strong structure
When it comes to building strong bones, there are two key nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. Calcium supports your bones and teeth structure, while vitamin D improves calcium absorption and bone growth.
These nutrients are important early in life, but they may also help as you age. If you develop osteoporosis, a disease characterized by brittle and breaking bones, getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D may slow the disease and prevent fractures.
Adults up to age 50 should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 200 international units (IUs) of vitamin D a day. Adults over 50 should get 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 IU of vitamin D. Get these nutrients by trying these 11 foods for healthy bones.
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Most people get their vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, but certain foods, like yogurt, are fortified with vitamin D.
One cup of yogurt can be a creamy way to get your daily calcium. Stonyfield Farms makes a fat-free plain yogurt that contains 30% of your calcium and 20% of your vitamin D for the day.
And though we love the protein-packed Greek yogurts, these varieties tend to contain less calcium and little, if any, vitamin D.
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There’s a reason milk is the poster child for calcium. Eight ounces of fat-free milk will cost you 90 calories, but provide you with 30% of your daily dose of calcium. Choose a brand fortified with vitamin D to get double the benefits.
Can’t get three glasses a day? Try blending milk into a smoothie or sauce.
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Just because cheese is full of calcium doesn’t mean you need to eat it in excess (packing on the pounds wonít help your joints!). Just 1.5 ounces (think a set of dice) of cheddar cheese contains more than 30% of your daily value of calcium, so enjoy in moderation.
Most cheeses contain a small amount of vitamin D, but not enough to put a large dent in your daily needs.
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These tiny fish, often found in cans, have surprisingly high levels of both vitamin D and calcium. Though they may look a bit odd, they have a savory taste that can be delicious in pastas and salads.
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Though eggs only contain 6% of your daily vitamin D, they’re a quick and easy way to get it. Just donít opt for egg whitesóthey may cut calories, but the vitamin D is in the yolk.
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Salmon is known for having plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but a 3-ounce piece of sockeye salmon contains more than 100% of your vitamin D. So eat up for your heart and your bones.
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Don’t eat dairy products? Spinach will be your new favorite way to get calcium. One cup of cooked spinach contains almost 25% of your daily calcium, plus fiber, iron, and vitamin A.
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Certain cerealsólike Kashi U Black Currants and Walnuts, Total Whole Grain, and Wheatiesócontain up to 25% of your daily vitamin D. When you don’t have time to cook salmon or get out in the sun, cereals can be a tasty way to get your vitamin D.
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Tuna, another fatty fish, is a good source of vitamin D. Three ounces of canned tuna contains 154 IU, or about 39% of your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin. Try these low-cal Tuna-Melt Tacos as a way to sneak in vitamin D and calcium.
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Like spinach, this leafy green often enjoyed south of the Mason-Dixon line is full of calcium. One cup of cooked collards contains more than 25% of your daily calcium. Plus you can easily sneak it into your favorite foods, like this ¸ber-healthy frittata.
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A glass of fresh-squeezed OJ doesn’t have calcium or vitamin D, but it’s often fortified to contain these nutrients. Try Tropicana’s Calcium + Vitamin D to get a boost of these essentials.
Also, studies have shown that the ascorbic acid in OJ may help with calcium absorption, so you may be more likely to get the benefits of this fortified drink.
Does Milk Actually Help Build Strong Bones?
†Steve Bronstein / Getty Images
by Joseph Bennington-Castro
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In the United States, milk has become†synonymous with strong bones. Itís long been a recommendation by doctors and†the U.S. Department of Agriculture that everyone over eight years old include three cups of dairy in their diet every day. But over the years,†experts have†poked some holes in the milk-bone health connection. Is milk really all its cracked up to be?
One of the major ingredients for healthy bones is calcium. This mineral provides structural strength to bones and teeth, and helps the body perform numerous other functions, such as clot blood and transmit nerve impulses. Normally, your body gets the calcium it needs from your diet, but if thatís not possible, itíll start pulling calcium from your bones, making them weaker in the process.
RELATED: Six Ways to Build Stronger Bones
Itís for this reason the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends you get between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium every day. ìMilk and dairy products are good calcium sources,î says Dr. Michael Lewiecki of the New Mexico Clinical Research & Osteoporosis Center. ìIn general, each serving of dairy ñ one cup of milk, a small container of yogurt, an ounce of cheese ñ has 300 milligrams of calcium.î This means, essentially, that you can get almost your entire daily-recommended amount of calcium just by ingesting three servings of dairy, as recommended by the USDA.
In recent years, some researchers have argued†that milk can actually cause the bones to lose calcium. The†ìacid-ashî hypothesis proposes that digesting milk leaves behind acidic residues that make your urine (and therefore your body) more acidic; to compensate for this, the body pulls alkaline minerals, such as calcium, from the bones. In 2011, however, a pair of scientists took a hard look at the evidence†for this hypothesis and found it wanting.
They explain, for example, that the pH of urine is not indicative of the bodyís pH. Whatís more, they note that some studies have found that milk consumption actually results in alkaline urine, not acidic urine.
Some experts also point out†that bone fracture rates appear to be highest in countries that consume the most dairy. But the 2011 review stresses that many factors affect bone health, such as physical activity, genetics, and weight. Indeed, the higher fracture rates in those developed countries ñ including the U.S. ñ may be due to less physical labor and more sedentary lifestyles, rather than milk consumption.
Over the years, research has gone back and forth on whether milk really does help build strong bones. A†recent study found that elderly men who drank a lot of milk during their teenage years actually had an increased risk for hip fractures. Another study, however, showed that milk (and yogurt) consumption results in higher bone mineral density†in the hip. Overall, the majority of research suggests†that dairy has some beneficial effects on bone health, in part because of milkís other nutrients.
ìIn terms of bone growth and health, you need a certain amount of protein, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients,î says Dr. RenÈ Rizzoli, head of the Division of Bone Diseases at Geneva University Hospitals in Switzerland. ìThe food that contains the most well balanced amount of these things is milk and other dairy products.î