Unless you’re super-human, you’ve probably noticed that your body just doesn’t behave and bounce back from setbacks like it used to.
It’s easy to notice the changes that we can feel and see, like the “quick” workout routine that now leaves you sore for days or the amount of extra care and products it takes to keep your hair, skin or nails strong and healthy.
But are there aspects of your health that change with age that you might not notice at all??
The answer is yes.
One component of our health that declines “behind the scenes” is our bones.
It’s often the case that one will find out the hard way that their bone health isn’t what it should be by way of a bone fracture. While the chances of bone fracture increase due to our bones’ inability to regenerate bone cells as efficiently as in our youth, it is possible to reinforce and assist the bone strengthening process by making sure you eat the right nutrients.
The most important minerals for bone health include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium.
Calcium is the first mineral people think of concerning bones. They’re not wrong: calcium is one of the most important minerals found in the human body. Approximately 99 percent of calcium is stored in the bones and teeth.
The crazy part is, our bodies don’t actually produce calcium. That means we must get it by eating food and/or taking supplements.
Calcium plays a role in other systems of the body too, such as:
- Muscle contraction
- Nerve impulse conduction sending messages to the brain
- Constriction and relaxation of blood vessels to prevent blood clots
As you can see, calcium is a critical mineral in more ways than one. When calcium levels in your bloodstream dip below the necessary level, multiple physiological functions will be affected. To accommodate for this calcium-deficit, the body produces certain regulatory hormones that pull calcium from the bones to restore the calcium levels needed for other processes. This, in turn, can then make the bones brittle and susceptible to breaking.
The best sources of calcium are dairy products and green leafy vegetables. Many cereals and other food products found in the grocery store are “fortified” with calcium.
Phosphorous is considered to be second only to calcium when it comes to the importance of minerals stored in the bones.
Like calcium, the nerves and muscles in your body depend on having an adequate amount of this phosphorous to function correctly. When phosphorous supply is low, regulating hormones cause it to be released from the bones.
One source the skeleton to a “bank where we can deposit calcium or phosphorus and then withdraw them later in times of need. However, too many withdrawals weaken the bone and lead to the most common bone disorder, fractures.”
Good sources of phosphorous are cereals, dairy products, meat, fish, legumes, nuts, grains, and eggs.
More than 60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones.
We don’t want to seem like a broken record, but…magnesium is needed for proper functioning of nerves muscles, and cognitive functioning, too!
As happens with other minerals, if enough is not taken in by the diet or with supplements, the body uses what is stored in the bones, which in turn, weakens the bones.
Good sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, particularly spinach, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Potassium is an often overlooked mineral, but it’s one that is vital to the body and assists in calcium absorption.
Potassium slows down the process of “bone resorption” which is what happens when small bone cells work to remove old bone to make room for new bone growth. While this is a necessary process, too much breakdown isn’t a good thing if bone formation isn’t keeping up at the same pace.
This “bone turnover rate” increases with age but, with the help of potassium, calcium can do its bone-forming job.
Good sources of potassium include bananas, avocados, potatoes, milk, nuts, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables.
Why These Minerals Need Constant Replenishing
As we age, we can see how our external selves change. Our skeletons, on the other hand, do not.
What’s more, bones and skeletons are associated with death (for example, Halloween).
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Bone tissue is living tissue.
The most significant proof of this is that our bones change constantly even after we’re done growing. The tissue in our skeleton changes many times over our lifetime; new bone replacing old bone on a continuous basis.
To support and maintain this process, we need to make sure we keep our skeleton supplied with the minerals it needs.