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Osteoporosis is a progressive disease affecting approximately 30% of women in the United States.  Hipspine, arm, and leg fractures due to falling are the most common injuries experienced by women with this disease. Bone density loss is more common in women as they tend to have smaller, thinner bones. Women approaching menopause also have an increased chance of osteoporosis because estrogen, a hormone known for protecting bones, is decreasing.

Osteoporosis was originally thought of as just a part of getting older, but there is now research showing that certain diet and lifestyle choices can help decrease symptoms, or possibly prevent the disease all together. Instilling proper lifestyle habits in our young women will go a long way in protecting them from osteoporosis in the future, and it is also never too late for older women to protect their bones by following the same recommendations. A well-balanced diet that is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals has been shown to be highly effective in promoting bone health. Here is what women and young girls should be incorporating into their diets on a daily basis:

Vitamins and minerals to promote bone health –

Vitamin C

Known to promote bone health. Foods like broccoli, cabbage, parsley, or other plants high in bone-protective antioxidants will help create healthy bones during childhood, and preserve bone density in young adults and older women.

Magnesium

Helps convert Vitamin D into the active form that promotes calcium absorption. Although magnesium is found in small amounts of most foods, supplementing with magnesium glycinate, citrate, or carbonate may be beneficial.

Zinc

Helps make up the mineral portion of your bones. Zinc promotes the formation of bone-building cells and prevents the excessive breakdown of bone.

Calcium

The MVP mineral of bone health! Calcium should be consumed daily because old bone cells are broken down and replaced by new ones. Calcium is absorbed the best when you consume a little bit with every meal.

Vitamin D

Calcium’s best friend. Vitamin D should be consumed with calcium whenever possible to increase your body’s absorption of calcium.

Vitamin K2

Found in liver, eggs, and fermented foods such as cheese, sauerkraut, and soybean products. K2 has been shown to increase bone density in children and postmenopausal women.

Omega-3 Fats

Known for their anti-inflammatory effects, foods high in Omega-3 fats such as fatty fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts can help protect against bone loss during the aging process. It’s important to balance your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids with Omega-6 fatty acids.

A few things to go along with a healthy diet…

Hit the gym. Weight-bearing and high-impact exercises are the best forms of activity to help build and maintain healthy bones.  For children, these exercises increase the amount of bone created during their peak growing years. For older adults, strength-training exercise has been shown to protect against bone loss and will help fight osteoporosis.

Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, which have all been shown to interfere with Vitamin D and Calcium absorption. These things should be consumed in moderation so that all of the nutritious food you’re eating is actually worth it!

No matter what our age, proper bone health is an on-going practice that should be a part of our every-day life. It is vital that we care for the bones we so heavily depend on, so that we can continue to do the things we love to do.