We've all heard that the best vitamins to support bone health are Vitamin D and Calcium. Actually, you need those PLUS Vitamin K, magnesium, and phosphorus. Did you know that low levels of Vitamin K have been associated with osteoporosis and fractures? For years, the recommendation for Vitamin D and calcium has always been dairy. It does provide 110 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup. ( the average adult needs anywhere between 1000 mg-1300 mg per day) But what if dairy upsets your stomach? What if you're vegan? What if dairy makes your arthritis symptoms worse (and it will!)? There are many things you can eat to get these vitamins in besides dairy. ( or if you are a dairy eater- in addition to!) Let's dive in a little bit further.
1. LEAFY GREENS. Calcium is essential for maintaining bone and tooth health. Did you know it's also essential for cardiovascular health? It helps ensure that your blood clots properly! In addition to calcium, you also need Vitamin K to absorb the calcium properly. Good thing all of these leafy green calcium sources also pack some vitamin K!
KALE: 1/2 cup of kale yields DOUBLE the amount of milk! That's right; kale rings in at 250 mg per 1/2 cup. I know that kale is all the rage right now ( and for a good nutritional reason), but it takes some getting used to. Personally, I put a little coconut oil, water, and 1/2 bag of kale in a pan with the lid on. Let it steam for about 7-8 minutes on medium heat. Drain, take the lid off, add some sea salt, and bam, it is so good! And it doesn't wilt down like spinach does when you cook it! You can also throw this into soups or salads.
BROCCOLI: 2 Cups of broccoli=86 mg of calcium, making it a pretty good source if kale isn't your thing.
SPINACH: 1/2 C of spinach =99 mg of calcium- but sadly, this source of calcium isn't as well absorbed by our bodies- but it is still a great source of other Vitamin K.
COLLARD GREENS: 1 c of collard greens = 266 mg of calcium and vitamin K
2. NUTS and SEEDS. While nuts do have some calcium, their contribution to bone health is more in their high amounts of phosphorus and magnesium. Phosphorus helps repair and build bones, while magnesium helps you RETAIN the calcium from your diet in your bones. All the more reason to eat those chocolate-covered almonds!
3. BEANS. Another amazing food group to help support your bone health is beans! Black beans, pinto beans, edamame, and kidney beans all carry magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. Did you know that a vegan diet based around beans as a primary plant-based protein has not negatively affected bone health negatively? That is as long as the person is getting enough of their bone-loving vitamins and nutrients elsewhere.
4. FATTY FISH - Fish like salmon and tuna are the best food sources for Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps support bone growth and is added into milk- it's not naturally occurring in dairy as most people think.
5. MUSHROOMS- Did you know that mushrooms are the only non-animal source of Vitamin D? Making this a great source of Vitamin D for vegans.
6. SUNSHINE!!! Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. Ten minutes of exposed skin to the sun can help make sure you're getting enough of this essential nutrient. If you live in an area where that's not possible, thanks a lot for Rochester winter :), a Vitamin D supplement during those months may be incredibly helpful!
Consider adding some or all of these into your diet to help support your healthy bones and keep you living well!