Strong bones are healthy bones. 44 million Americans are at risk for bone loss which can lead to osteoporosis: brittle/porous bones, loss of height or stunted growth. Of those diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, 75% will have bone density loss. Additionally, malnutrition can occur at any weight, leading to bone loss. A minimum of 3 servings of dairy and or calcium fortified foods are recommended to meet most individuals calcium needs. Here is some additional advice to help with bone health. By Kayla Sabatini
- SOURCES OF CALCIUM. Some common sources of calcium are Milk, Almond Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Orange Juice, and Collard Greens are amongst some of the few examples of foods with high levels of calcium. It is necessary to get the proper calcium intake on a daily basis, otherwise your body will need to take calcium from the bones.
- POPULAR FOODS WITH LESS CALCIUM. Look a little closer, here are some foods that you may think are providing you with a lot of calcium, but they aren’t all they are made out to be. These include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, feta cheese, and frozen yogurt. Whole foods are beneficial in that they may provide other nutrients essential to calcium, such as vitamin D, K and magnesium.
- BLOCKING CALCIUM. Some nutrients and lifestyle habits can block calcium absorption in the body. Be aware that these may be leaving your body deficient in calcium. Here are some examples of things that can interfere with calcium absorption, smoking/vaping, caffeine, high protein diets, alcohol, inadequate Vitamin D, and tobacco use.
- SUPPLEMENTS. When choosing which calcium supplements to take you must consider a few things. One, what type of calcium is the supplement? If the supplement is calcium citrate, you can take it with or without food. However, if the calcium is calcium carbonate it must be taken with food. Two, what dosage should you take? This can be recommended by a medical professional or you can consult the RDA for calcium that varies with age, gender, development, and pregnancy. It is recommended that calcium supplements be taken at a different time than your multi-vitamin because calcium is not absorbed as well when taken with iron, zinc, or magnesium and also should not be take with high calorie foods. Keep in mind that the body can only absorb about 500 mg of calcium at one time.
- TIMING. Proper calcium intake is important throughout the lifespan; however it is especially crucial during growth in childhood/adolescence and pregnancy. Calcium, along with Vitamin D, is an essential building block of bones. Without adequate calcium intake during growth both in children/adolescents and pregnancy, growth can be stunted leading to many possible health complications, such as increase in fractures, osteopenia, osteoporosis, or developmental complications of the fetus.
- HORMONES. Loss of menses, usually due to lack of estrogen production, is a common consequence of low % body fat and inadequate nutrition intake, as seen in eating disorders. Low production of estrogen leads to decreased production of bone density and an increase in bone absorption (loss of bone density). This may result in stunted growth in younger individuals. A bone density is typically tested in individuals at risk.
- EXERCISE. Proper calcium intake is essential for appropriate bone health. Strong bones are supported by good nutrition. In order to exercise, it is extremely important for your body to be getting a sufficient amount of calcium to support the stress that exercise puts on your bones. Weight bearing exercise can strengthen bone density, however, only when nutrition intake is adequate, weight and % of body fat is normalized and hormone production is not compromised.