Spinach and ricotta cannelloni — not only delicious but also good for your bones! That’s because it’s made with some bone-strengthening ingredients.
When I think about what I should be doing to help keep my bones strong and prevent osteoporosis, the first things that come to mind are weight bearing exercise and nutritious food that is rich in calcium and vitamin D. That is what’s recommended, so I’m on the right track.
But getting your daily allowance of vitamin D in the food you eat might be a challenge. You can get some from wild-caught mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines and fortified milk and orange juice, but not all that you need.
Here’s what the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) says about vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps your body use calcium. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, or if your body doesn’t absorb it well, you are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun and is also available in a few foods. However, many people need a vitamin D supplement. Find out how much vitamin D you need and if a supplement is right for you.
How much vitamin D do you need?
- People under age 50 need 400 to 800 IU a day.
- People over age 50 need 800 to 1000 IU a day.
Getting calcium from your food is a different story. You can get what you need or at least, quite a bit from food.
How much calcium do you need?
- Women under age 50 and men under age 70 need 1000 mg a day.
- Women over age 50 and men over age 70 need 1200 mg a day.
The best calcium sources include dairy products and fortified foods and drinks. Heidi Skolnik, a registered dietitian who sits on the NOF board and is president of Nutrition Conditioning, Inc., says you should try to get what you need from food first and then add a supplement. “You should say, what did I consume today,” she advises. “I had a yogurt at breakfast, a cup of milk as part of my snack or a cheese snack. I’ll have 250 milligrams of a calcium supplement versus automatically taking 500 milligrams in the morning and 500 at night regardless of what you’re eating.”
Add more nutrients to your diet
You should make sure you get other nutrients as well so you can provide your body with an array of bone-healthy foods. “We need a balanced diet,” says Heidi. “Different foods do different things for different reasons. We need carbohydrate foods for certain things and we need protein foods for other things. And we also need the healthy fats.”
NOF has a handy chart that shows all the nutrients we need for healthy bones and where you can find them.
If you’d like to know more about preventing and treating osteoporosis, read my blog post The latest research on why we lose bone as we age and what we can do about it.
I also have a recipe for you that is full of calcium-rich ingredients, compliments of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. It’s not a quick and easy recipe, but I think it will be worth the effort.