Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density which can lead to an increased risk of fracture.
According to a 2011 National Institutes of Health fact sheet, in the U.S. more than 40 million people already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass. Click here to see if you are at risk.
These are the key nutrients that are most important for preserving and building bone:
- Calcium: Although you will most likely need a calcium supplement to meet your total calcium needs, add the following to your diet: yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, acidophilus milk (fermented milk products provide calcium along with lactic acid that enhances the digestive process).
- Recommended dosages: Women in their 30s and 40s and those on estrogen replacement therapy, at least 1,000 mg; Postmenopausal women not on estrogen, 1,500 mg daily; Most men, 1,000-1,200 mg daily.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body absorb and use calcium. From mid-fall through mid-spring in Maryland, the sun is too weak to stimulate vitamin D production in any significant quantity so we need to supplement.
- The recommended dosage is 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day, as D3 (cholecalciferol-the more active form of vitamin D).
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K2 directs calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries.
- The recommended dosage is 150-300 mcg daily.
- Do NOT take vitamin K if you take anticoagulants (blood thinners), Consult with your primary care physician.
- Strontium: Strontium appears to play a role in the formation of new bone while slowing the breakdown of old bone, and thus may influence bone density.
- The recommended daily dosage is 680 mg.
As for what to Avoid:
- Phosphorus: Limit your phosphorus intake. (And you do need some phosphorus in your diet.) When phosphorous/calcium levels are out of balance because calcium levels are low in relation to phosphorous levels, the parathyroid glands produces PTH, which raises calcium levels by leaching it from bones.
- A major source of phosphorus is soft drinks, so cut back or eliminate them from your diet.
If you are at risk, supplementing with these 4 nutrients and decreasing the amount of phosphorus in your diet could greatly reduce your risk for osteoporosis.
For more information about osteoporosis, click here to go to the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s website.