We were always told to drink milk in order to have strong bones. Although this old adage is true, too much of it might have the opposite effect. A Swedish study of 100,000 people has found that three or more glasses of dairy milk a day was associated with an increased risk of fracture. However, this post is not me trying to take a jab at milk. That would be quite messy.
Point is, nothing is absolute in science. With nutrition, research is constantly being updated. Hence, having an open mind is crucial to the incorporation of new information.
Did you know that the strongest bone in the body is the Thigh Bone or Femur? It is also the longest.
Bones are composed of a mineral composition (70%) and an organic composition (30%). The minerals are Calcium and Phosphorous while the organic part is made up of collagen. There are also cells, which are the smallest functional unit in the human body and are part of the organic composition. Their roles are to make new bone and get rid of old bone to put it simple.
Calcium+ is not a reference to a fortified milk product but a visual cue that you need more than calcium to build stronger bones.
1. Eating foods that are high in Calcium throughout the day
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for Calcium is 1,00mg per day for most people. Teens would need 1,300mg as they are still developing and older women would need 1,200mg as they are at an increased risk of osteoporosis postmenopausal.
It is best to incorporate food that is rich in calcium throughout the day to ensure maximal absorption.
Taking a food first approach is important to ensure holistic health and wellness. Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, protein from tofu for example all play a role in ensuring optimal bone health.
2. Resistance and Strength Training
Exercises that require load bearing result in the promotion of new bone formation. In older adults, this can result in decreasing bone loss associated with age as peak bone mass is achieved in your late 20s.
Osteoblasts, which are the cells responsible for making new bone get stimulated during strength building exercises which results in increased strength, bone mineral density and peak bone mass.
This also helps in the development of stronger and larger muscle fibres, which will help in taking some of the burden of your bones.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a lot of roles in the human body with regards to immunity and overall bone health. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb the calcium and use the calcium in improving bone health.
Vitamin D deficiency is a very common and this can be attributed to spending most of the day indoors and being covered with clothes when outside.
Vitamin D cannot be synthesised with the sunlight entering through glass. Sunlight helps with Vitamin D production and plant-based margarines can be fortified with Vitamin D. However for most people a Vitamin D supplement of 1000-2000IU can be a cheap and easy source.
In conclusion, a plant-based diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, combined with a daily intake of calcium rich foods during different meals is a strong base. Combining this with daily exposure to the sun (with sun protection) and resistance training will help in building a solid foundation in having strong and healthy bones.