Low bone mineral density (BMD) affects millions of aging Americans today. The scary part? It’s often unrealized until a bone is broken or other health issues present themselves. In fact, researchers expect related fractures to double within the next 50 years.
What’s the best way to avoid the risks of low bone mineral density? Prevention. Preserving and maximizing bone mass is essential, as well as ensuring your body is getting the nutrients it needs to support optimal bone health.
Here’s a look at some critical nutrients your body needs to support bone mineral density, keeping bones strong and healthy.
The Top Minerals to Support Bone Mineral Density
Most of us already associate calcium with strong bones. For a good reason, too: calcium is the primary mineral in your bones. Since old bones cells are broken down regularly and replaced with new ones, you need to get enough calcium daily to keep your bones healthy.
Most people aren’t getting enough calcium in their diet; in fact, most women over the age of 40 are getting less than half their daily recommended dietary allowance.
To support bone mineral density, you’ll want to eat calcium-rich foods throughout your day.
Good options include:
• Dairy products
• Whey protein
• Dark, leafy greens
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D and calcium are two nutrients that go hand in hand. You must have enough Vitamin D to absorb calcium properly. In other words, even if you’re getting plenty of calcium…if you don’t get enough Vitamin D, your body might not be able to absorb and use the calcium.
Studies show that adults and children with Vitamin D deficiencies have lower bone mineral density and a higher risk of bone loss.
Getting 10-15 minutes of sun exposure each day can help your body produce vitamin D.
Certain foods are rich in Vitamin D as well, such as liver, cheese, and fatty fish. However, many people require a supplement to maintain optimal Vitamin D levels.
For more Vitamin D options, check out this post.
Magnesium is another mineral that plays a critical role in supporting BMD. Magnesium helps to convert Vitamin D to an active form so that it can aid in calcium absorption.
According to the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, women who get enough magnesium have higher bone density.
Like Vitamin D, it can be tough to get enough magnesium from diet alone. Since it’s found in small amounts within foods, taking a magnesium supplement may offer benefits for bone health.
4. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 works by modifying a unique protein that’s involved in bone formation. This modification allows this protein to bind to minerals within your bones, in turn, preventing the loss of calcium.
Studies show that supplementing with supplementing with vitamin K2.
Excellent dietary sources of this vitamin include:
• Brussels sprouts
• Collard greens
• Iceberg lettuce
• Fresh spinach
• Fermented foods
Zinc is a trace mineral, which means that you need it in small amounts. That being said, it is an essential nutrient in bone formation!
It promotes the development of bone-building cells and can help prevent the excessive breakdown of bone. Studies show that zinc is especially critical for the maintenance of BMD in aging adults.
Excellent food sources of zinc include:
• Pumpkin seeds
6. Vitamin C
Most people think of the immune system when they think of Vitamin C, but it turns out that it is a nutrient that supports BMD, too.
Vitamin C helps stimulate the production of those bone-forming cells in your body (their scientific names are “osteoblasts”). Some studies even suggest that the antioxidant effects of this vitamin may protect your bone cells from oxidative damage.
Although citrus fruits are well-known sources of vitamin C, other foods can be sources of the vitamin, like yellow peppers, kale, kiwis, and broccoli.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their heart and brain health benefits. It turns out they’re great for your bones, too.
Omega-3 fatty acids–also known as EPA and DHA–have shown to have a protective effect against bone mineral loss with aging.
Although many studies have looked specifically at the benefits of omega-3s from fish oil and krill oil, another study published in the Nutrition Journal found that plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids helped to increase bone formation and decrease bone breakdown. Some of the plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
Many of the seven nutrients discussed can be found in a healthy diet. In some cases, however, supplementation may be a more convenient or straightforward strategy. Of course, always remember to discuss any supplements with your doctor to ensure they’re safe for you to take.