During childhood, your body is building and rebuilding bone continuously, but you plenty of calcium throughout your life. The amount of bone that your body builds depends largely on your diet and the amount of exercise you get. The mineral calcium, which is found in some foods, is necessary to build healthy bones. Many women, however, don't get enough calcium in their diets. Consequently, foods containing calcium should be added to their diets to help promote bone health later in life.
Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones weaken and become brittle as you age. Brittle bones are much more susceptible to fracture. The strength of your bones depends on the amount of minerals they contain, particularly calcium. Old bone is continuously being broken down, and new bone is being made. Calcium is one of the building blocks of new bone. Consequently, adequate calcium must be consumed to minimize bone loss. According to The National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million Americans currently have osteoporosis, and 34 million Americans are at risk.
To absorb calcium, and place it in your bones and teeth, you must also consume adequate amounts of vitamin D. Women who are low in vitamin D can develop soft bones and lose bone mass. In addition to consuming vitamin D, our bodies require sunlight to manufacture the compound that creates vitamin D within our bodies. You need 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your face and arms, three times a week, for your body to make enough vitamin D.
Women require at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. The daily requirement for vitamin D is 600 international units. Dairy products are high in calcium, with 1 cup of plain yogurt containing 415 milligrams and a cup of low-fat milk containing 300 milligrams. Cheese is a rich source of calcium, with 1.5 ounces of cheddar cheese containing 307 milligrams. Vegetables that contain calcium include broccoli, kale and other leafy greens. Foods that are high in vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, shrimp and sardines. Milk is typically fortified with vitamin D, as well.
Vitamin D Sources
Milk is fortified with vitamin D and is an excellent source of the nutrient with a quarter of your daily needs in 1 cup. Some brands and types of cheese and yogurt are also fortified with vitamin D. Salmon, egg yolks, shrimp and sardines are additional food sources of vitamin D.
As osteoporosis develops, it creates very few symptoms. As you get older, it is wise to have a regular bone scan. A bone scan measures bone density, and the results can catch the development of osteoporosis in an early stage. Consult with your health care provider to determine if you are a good candidate for a bone scan, as well as to discuss how to increase your intake of calcium most effectively.
- National Women’s Health Information Center: Getting Strong Bones: From Youth to Old Age
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: About Osteoporosis: Bone Health Basics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Calcium and Bone Health
- University of Florida: Facts About Vitamin D
- National Institutes of Health: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.