Having a strong frame is vital not only to provide structure to the body but also to protect the internal organs and anchor the muscles.
Besides this, a healthy set of bones is vital for good posture, balance and strength. The two key ingredients to help you develop strong bones are calcium and phosphorus. Apart from this, smaller amounts of other nutrients like vitamins, proteins and minerals are also required in a balanced manner. Although the process of developing healthy bones begins at birth, it is essential to maintain a proper diet program at all ages. This becomes particularly important after about 30 years of age or following menopause in women when the bone density reduces drastically. Here are some “super foods” to help you boost your bone density at any age.
Milk: Undoubtedly, the best source of calcium required for proper bone growth. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), low fat or fat-free milk is the best choice. This is because it has high calcium content without the added fat, which promotes the easy absorption of calcium by the body. In addition to calcium, milk also provides other essential nutrients required for optimal bone health like Potassium, Magnesium, Riboflavin, Phosphorus and Vitamins D, A and B12.
Dairy products: A National Institute of Health (NIH) report has earlier designated dairy products like cheese and yoghurt as the preferred source of calcium due to their high calcium levels. In case you are lactose intolerant, you can also opt for other dairy products that are either lactose-free or have low levels of lactose.
Sardines: This fish has very high levels of calcium and Vitamin D – both of which play a critical role in bone development. As per dietary standards, eating three ounces of canned sardines is almost equal to the calcium obtained from a cup of milk.
Salmon: Salmon is yet another vital food component for healthy bones. This is due to the presence of large amounts of omega-3-fatty acids, calcium and vitamins. On an average, a three-ounce piece of salmon provides more than 100 percent of your regular Vitamin D requirement.
Greens: Dark green leafy veggies like broccoli and bok choy are good sources of calcium. Apart from this, you can also obtain your daily dose of calcium from traditional soul food favorites, collards and turnip greens. The alkaline effect of eating a diet rich in these vegetables will help you to strengthen your bones and promote bone growth by preventing calcium loss. Also, the plant sterols (steroid hormones) are converted to a hormone, calciferol, required for calcium absorption.
Nuts and seeds: There are different ways by which nuts and seeds can help you bolster bone growth. Besides being high in calcium, walnuts, almonds and flaxseeds are packed with minerals and omega-3-fatty acids. The presence of potassium in certain nuts like almonds and peanuts also help to protect loss of calcium via urine.
Orange juice: Oranges are must-haves for healthy bone growth as they are loaded with beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and calcium. They can be especially used by individuals who have intolerance to lactose and cannot obtain their daily calcium requirements from dairy products. Hence, try incorporating more oranges in your daily diet to help your bones become stronger and healthier.
Combined with regular exercise and limited smoking or alcohol intake, these food products can influence the maintenance of a strong skeleton by positively influencing the controllable factors.
(Sources: CDC, ILSI-India seminar, Bone health report, National Institute of Health report)