Osteoporosis

As much as I hate to say this, staying in shape takes on a whole new meaning when your clock ticks past the 5-0. (Actually, a number of things take on new meanings when your clock ticks past the big 5-0, but… that’s for another blog.)

There was a time, not too long ago, that I could eat whatever I wanted, however much I wanted, whenever I wanted – and all was fine with the world as well as my thighs, hips and bone density. No more.

Dandelion Greens are rich in calcium and receive 3 Guiding Stars for best nutrition
Dandelion Greens are rich in calcium and receive 3 Guiding Stars for best nutrition

Many of the Guiding Stars bloggers have yet to reach 40 much less 50, and let’s face it – there are things we (are forced to) think about at 50 that we don’t otherwise. Some are less pleasant to think about than others. So, until we get to know each other better we’ll start with an easy one: bone density.

Just like all the cells in our body, our bone mass is constantly changing; old bone is continually being replaced by new bone. In childhood, more bone is produced than removed, so our bones (skeleton) grow in both size as well as strength (density). Childhood is a critical time to build bone density so that later in life we can rely on those strong bones when we start to lose bone mass. Children should have calcium rich foods every day.

Our bone mass peaks during our 30’s, after which however, the rate at which our new bone replaces old bone slows. Eventually the new bone growth slows so much that it isn’t enough to replace the “old bone” and there is an actual reduction in bone strength (density).

Add to this the rapid loss of bone mass that follows menopause and you have a serious health challenge. Even though men typically accumulate more bone mass than women and don’t experience the “menopause effect” of bone loss, by the age 65 or so men and women are losing bone mass at the same rate. So bone loss (a.k.a. Osteoporosis) is NOT just a woman’s issue — It’s a health issue. It’s also a “silent disease” because it progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs.

What does this have to do with nutrition? A lot. Calories and fat content aren’t the only important benchmarks when picking the right foods. Calcium (and vitamin D to help absorption) is critical for keeping your bones strong and healthy. How much calcium we need can vary a bit depending on age and sex, but here’s a general guideline from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

1 through 3 years500 mg400 IU*

NOF Calcium and Vitamin D Recommendations
Children & Adolescents Calcium (Daily) Vitamin D (Daily)
4 through 8 years 800 mg 400 IU*
9 through 18 years 1,300 mg 400 IU*
Adult Women & Men Calcium (Daily) Vitamin D (Daily)
19 through 49 years 1,000 mg 400-800 IU
50 years and over 1,200 mg 800-1000 IU
Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women Calcium (Daily) Vitamin D (Daily)
18 years and under 1,300 mg 400-800 IU
19 years and over 1,000 mg 400-800 IU

*NOF does not have specific vitamin D recommendations for these age groups. These are the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Armed with this information you can make meals that will not only keep your weight in check, but your bones strong as well. It’s common knowledge that dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.) are naturally rich in calcium, but there are other foods that provide calcium as well.

 

So if you aren’t getting enough dairy or just looking for some variety, here are some great calcium rich foods that receive Guiding Stars:

1 Guiding Star = Good Nutrition

  • Canned salmon with bones (Bumble Bee Wild Alaska Salmon = 1 star)
  • Baked beans (B&M Original Canned Baked Beans = 1 star)

 

2 Guiding Stars = Better Nutrition

  • Tofu processed with calcium (NaSoya Lite Firm Tofu = 2 stars)
  • Calcium fortified cereals (General Mills Whole Grain Total 100% Calcium = 2 stars)
  • Calcium fortified 100% fruit juice (Minute Maid 100% Fruit Punch juice boxes = 2 stars)

 

3 Guiding Stars = Best Nutrition

  • Rhubarb
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Okra
  • White beans (dried)
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Bok choy
  • Almonds
  • Sardines (Season Brand Imported Sardines In Water = 3 stars)

 

Now I grew up in Texas where, if it wasn’t fried – it wasn’t food. (I wonder how many stars chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and cream gravy have?) For me, changing to a healthier diet took some active thought, planning and discipline. But, it’s worth it to eat right now rather than pay for it later. Besides, following the Guiding Stars and Erin Dow’s Expert Chef recipes, it’s a no-brainer.

Tips to keep your bones strong:

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages excessively.
  3. Do weight-bearing exercises in which bones and muscles work against gravity. i.e.: walking, jogging, tennis, climbing stairs, weights, resistance machines…
  4. Don’t over exercise. Did you know, both males and females who exercise excessively without adequate caloric intake are at heightened risk of osteoporosis? Athletes who train hard while trying to keep their weight below a certain level for competitive reasons are at particularly high-risk. (Be sure to take care and get good professional and/or medical advice when starting a new program.)
  5. Do eat and drink calcium rich foods and beverages every day.

 

For more information on bone strength check out http://www.iofbonehelalth.org and http://www.nof.org/

Lynnelle Wilson is founder and president of BOLDBusiness.tv and Bold Vision Consulting, both of which help people and organizations integrate digital and “new” media in their ‘old’ world. She also blogs at Lynnelle.com – highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly of a Single, Self-Employed and Wickedly Happy Over 50 (ish) Woman in Maine. Originally from Dallas, TX, Lynnelle lives in South Portland, Maine with the cutest, littlest Pablo Ruiz.