How healthy are your bones?
As a 57-year old coming out the other side of the menopause (learning to be proud of my age!) I'm fully aware that as your years increase, so your bone density decreases. Bone health in adulthood depends on bone density acquired during adolescence, so although peak bone density is actually reached at around the age of 30, whatever our age, bone health is hugely important. Especially if we want to keep on fit and active into our old age, as I intend to do!
Poor bone health can lead to osteoporosis in later life and increase the risk of breaking a bone from a fall. The good news is that a combination of eating the right types of foods and exercise, can make a real difference.
So, how can you keep those bones in as good health as possible, whether 15, 55 or 85?
Calcium is key!
You need sufficient calcium to help build healthy bones.
If your body doesn’t get enough calcium from the food you it, it will take it from your bones.
Vitamin D is also important because it helps your body absorb the calcium.
Magnesium also ensures optimum absorption of calcium and helps convert the vitamin D.
Other important nutrients which help bone density include boron, phosphorous, vitamin K, zinc and manganese and potassium, all nutrients you will naturally get from a healthy, balanced diet.
5 Top Tips To Boost Bone Density
1. Get enough Calcium in your diet
Click on the links to relevant recipes to help you do this…
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and calcium enriched soya alternatives. If you struggle to drink milk, this tzatziki recipe is a great way to get your calcium
- Oily fish such as sardines (try this salad it’s yum!) or salmon (the bones are also very nutritious!). These lunchtime protein salmon pots are also delicious and very ‘bone healthy’.
- Some fruit, vegetables and pulses:
- Green leafy veg such as broccoli and watercress
- Green cabbage
- Dried figs and apricots
- Kidney beans, baked beans – try this 5 bean chilli
- Some nuts and seeds
- Tahini, sesame,
- Almonds and
- Brazil nuts
2. Boost your vitamin D by getting outside into the sunshine
Get outside in the sunshine as much as possible to increase levels of vitamin D; I don’t normally recommend supplements but during the winter months you could also consider take a vitamin D supplement (recommended by the NHS).
Wear a short-sleeved top when you run to maximise your exposure to the sunlight.
3. Eat foods that are source of, or enriched with, Vitamin D:
- Fish, especially oily fish (salmon, mackerel, pilchards, anchovies)
- Red meat
- Vitamin D enriched mushrooms (exposed to sunlight)
- Fortified products such as milk, tofu, yoghurt, orange juice, breakfast cereals
- Eggs – see how to poach the perfect egg
4. Bone Health for vegans or a predominantly plant-based diet
It's super important to look after your bone health if you follow a plant-based diet as many of the key sources of calcium, vitamin D and other minerals occur in animal products such as dairy, eggs and meat. You will need to get your calcium from fortified foods such as: fortified soya, rice and oat drinks, soya beans, calcium set tofu – (try in these Pad Thai noodles 😊), sesame seeds and tahini, pulses, brown and white bread, dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, figs, apricots (also Kate Percy’s Go Bites!).
This is particularly important for adolescents following a plant-based diet.
5. Eat foods high in Magnesium
The good news is that dark chocolate and cacao are great sources of magnesium! Also try...
- Nuts and seeds, particularly almonds, cashews, flaxseed, peanuts, chia and pumpkin seeds. Try Kate Percy's new mix-at-home pancakes, dough balls or pizza bases - these all contain flaxseed...
- Legumes - black beans, edamame and butter beans are great sources of magnesium.
- Wholegrains such as quinoa
- Dairy products such as milk and yoghurt
- Spinach and other leafy greens
- Mackerel and mussels
Boost your magnesium with Kate Percy's Raspberry + Cacao Go Bites.