Several factors come into play to develop and maintain strong bones from infancy to adulthood.
Along with weight resistance exercise and maintaining stress levels, nutrients are essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones. Essential nutrients for healthy strong bones are:
The adult body contains around 1200g of calcium which amounts to about 1-2% of body weight. Of this, 99% is found in mineralized tissues such as bones and teeth. (Gibney et al, 2009)
All plant based foods contain a source of calcium however the highest proportion is found in animal foods such as dairy and sardines.
After the age of 50 for men and after the menopause calcium absorption decreases, this is when fractures can most likely occur so it is essential that adequate intake is consumed on a daily basis.
Foods rich in Calcium:
Magnesium is disturbed in the body via the skeleton (50 – 60%) and the soft tissues (40-50%). In the skeleton about one third of the magnesium is on the surface of the bone. (Gibney et al, 2009)
Foods high in magnesium include seaweeds such as kelp, also whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables, tofu , cocoa powder and from nuts such as Brazil nuts and seed products such as Tahini.
In the adult body 85% of phosphorus is in bone and the remaining 15% in soft tissues. (Gibney et al, 2009)
The calcium to phosphorus ratio in food is important as too little calcium and too much phosphorus (red meats, poultry and soft drinks) have been linked to osteoporosis. (Murray et al 2012)
Food sources of phosphorus include:
Plain natural yoghurt
Murray et al, 2008 stipulated that vegetarians maybe at a lower risk of developing osteoporosis as in addition to Vitamin k1 and the high levels of other minerals found in plant foods, their increased consumption of trace mineral boron helps reduce their risk. This applies to vegetarians who are eating a nutritionally dense diet.
They continue to state that boron has been shown to have a positive effect on calcium and active oestrogen levels in post-menopausal women.
Food sources of Boron:
Vitamin K is found in 3 sources – Vitamin K1 is known as phylloquinone or phytonadione, Vitamin K2 or menaquinone is derived from bacteria in the gut and vitamin K3 or menadione is a synthetic derivative.
Vitamin K1 is responsible for converting the bone protein osteocalcin from its inactive to it active form. A deficiency of Vitamin K1 leads to impaired mineralization of the bone due to inadequate active osteocalcin levels. (Murray et al, 2012)
Food sources of Vitamin K1
Last but not least we have Vitamin D, though not strictly a vitamin as it is synthesised by the skin the role of vitamin D in bone health is huge. The function of vitamin D is calcium and phosphate absorption and regulation (Osiecki, 2010)
Fish liver oil
Hope you enjoyed reading strong bone foods!
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Gibney, J, Michael, Lanham-New, A, Susan, Cassidy, Aedin, Vorster, H, Hester, 2009, Wiley-Blackwell, Introduction to Human Nutrition, second edition,
Murray, Dr Michael, Pizzorno, Joesph, Pizzorno, Lara, 2012, Piatkus, The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods
Osiecki, Henry, 2010, Bio Concepts Publishing, The Nutrient Bible, 8th edition,
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