Forming and maintaining strong, healthy bones is critical to an active life style. Bones support the body, protect internal organs, and allow an amazing range of movement from sitting, standing, and walking, to running, lifting, carrying, and twisting.
Because bones perform silently and unseen, it is easy to forget how important it is to protect these valuable assets. One of the essential steps in protecting bone health is good nutrition.
Good bone nutrition begins with a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods containing:
* Vitamin D
* Vitamin C
Calcium is critical for reaching peak bone mass in childhood and for maintaining bone strength throughout life. Calcium strengthens and stiffens bones so that the skeleton can better support the body's weight and protect internal organs from injury.
Calcium is needed for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system as well as for the formation of new bone tissue. Bones act like storage vaults from which the body draws calcium. If the body is not getting enough daily calcium to maintain the smooth running of the various systems, it will withdraw calcium from the bones and cause them to thin and weaken. Weak bones are more easily broken and can lead to loss of mobility if the body is not able to repair the damage.
Calcium requirements differ by age. The minimum daily requirement for the following age brackets is:
* 10 to 18 - 1,300 milligrams (mg)
* 19 to 50 - 1,000 mg
* 50 and older - 1200 mg
Calcium rich foods include:
* Dairy products - milk, cheese, yogurt
* Dark green, leafy vegetables - kale, chard, turnip greens, bok choy, collard greens, broccoli
* Nuts - almonds, hazelnuts
* Fish - sardines, salmon
* Calcium fortified foods - some foods have calcium added such as orange juice, dry cereal, and bread