As a person grows old, there are constant changes that happen to our bones. Sometimes we lose a certain amount of bones, making it thinner, more fragile and breakable. Although this can be repaired and reinforced by the proper intake of nutrients, some people fail to realize this and eventually find themselves experiencing bone-related conditions as they grow old, as well as at young ages in some cases.
The bones are a very vital part of the human structure, and there are nutrients that the bones just cannot live without. These nutrients help the bones to become healthier, stronger and disease-free.
Calcium is particularly the most important nutrient that the human bones need. It is the most abundant mineral in the body and plays a vital role in preventing a condition called osteoporosis, or loss of bone density often causing frequent back pains and fracture in the vertebrae, since it helps in keeping the bones and teeth strong. 99% of the calcium is found in the bones, while 1% is found in the blood which helps in certain metabolic processes. The body cannot provide calcium for itself, therefore it must be replenished daily through the diet with the right amount. Supplementations can also be taken as long as the body does not become deficient in calcium, causing more serious problems.
Vitamin D is another fat soluble vitamin that is essential for bone health. Unlike calcium, a precursor of Vitamin D can be found in our body which can later be converted into active Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight our through the diet. According to recent studies, amounts of Vitamin D can become inadequate even in some areas with a lot of sunshine like Australia. During these cases, it is important to acquire enough vitamin D through the diet. It also increases the absorption of calcium in foods, providing more calcium for the bones.
Protein is needed for the formation of hormones needed for bone formation. Not only that, the bone is composed of 20% of protein. Protein is not only beneficial for bone development, but as well as the organs and body systems. As to the amount of protein that should be taken in order to achieve its full effect, all you need is just the right amount. Not too much, and not too less. Low protein level is often associated with hip fracture and other bone diseases such as hyperparathyroidism. Higher protein status results to reduced complications after hip fracture and shorter hospital stays. On the other hand, excessive protein, particularly animal protein, is toxic to the bones. All in all, just the right amount of protein is needed for bone renewal and maintenance. There are many sources of protein-rich foods like cowpeas, raw and fresh egg whites, cheeses, dried seaweed, raw pumpkin leaves, nuts and seeds, and tofu.
Almost 60 percent of the dietary magnesium is located and stored in the bones, and the muscles and tissues have the rest. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. It serves as a key function in many biochemical reactions necessary for bone strength and metabolism. Magnesium also helps in active calcium transport in the body and contributes to stopping bone fractures. A study even suggests that women with osteoporosis are reported to be lacking in magnesium, even if they have adequate amount of calcium. Magnesium rich foods include beans, nuts, vegetables, parmesan cheese, cocoa powder, dried figs, wheat germ, dried apricots and many more.
This mineral is of great importance to the human body. Potassium is considered the hidden bone guardian because it is widely known to maintain critical fluid balance in the body together with sodium, but its benefits for the bones must not be overlooked. The body somehow develops bone-depleting metabolic acids and these acids "eat away" the bone, much like how and acid rain eats up a limestone statue. These acids are somehow largely neutralized by the potassium compounds or potassium salts. Some of the foods that are rich in potassium are raisins, baked potatoes, tomato products, yogurt, lima beans, dried prunes and cooked spinach.
Another vitamin that plays a vital role in bone health is Vitamin K. It gives plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and an indirect role in osteoporosis by preventing bone loss. 65 to 80 micrograms is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for this mineral which can be mostly found in soybean oil, broccoli, cooked spinach, green leafy vegetables, alfalfa, and fish oil.
According to a recent study at Tufts University, vitamin B12 can help in avoiding bone fracture. In more than 2,500 people in where the researchers measured their bone density and vitamin B12 levels, it was determined that the bones of people with higher blood level of the vitamin are seven percent denser than those with low levels. Study author Dr. Katherine Tucker says that Vitamin B12 is crucial for the development of new generation cells. She added that the bone is constantly breaking down and rebuilding and without sufficient Vitamin B12, this balance may tip towards greater breakdown. Vitamin B12 rich foods include sardines, liver, eggs, beef, mussels, pork, cheese and milk. However, elderly, vegetarians, pregnant women, smokers, drinkers, and those with intestinal disease may resort to supplementation.