When it comes to building strong and healthy bones, focusing only on calcium alone can be a dangerous mistake.
Although calcium is one of the predominant minerals in the bones, it requires other nutrients for it to be properly absorbed and utilized, as well as to keep it in check.
Without these nutrients, too little calcium being absorbed can increase the risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases, while at the other end of the spectrum, having too much unutilized calcium may lead to the formation of stones and damage the kidneys.
In this article, we will look at some of the whole foods that packed these critical nutrients, as well as calcium, which we need to develop and maintain bones that will last us a lifetime.
Let us begin with the mineral that most of us are familiar with:
Why calcium is important to bone health? Bones are not dead and static structures that most of us have imagined. They are constantly breaking down and rebuilding at the tissue level so much that a healthy adult would have a whole new set of skeleton every ten years. Calcium, in the form of calcium phosphate, is one of the critical minerals needed to build bone mass and give the bone its hardness.
Calcium-rich foods: The body cannot produce calcium; it has to be absorbed through the food we eat. Other than the usual milk and related dairy products, like yogurt, which may not be suitable for those who are sensitive or intolerant to them, there are plenty of other choices.
They include sardines (remember to eat the bones!), collard greens, turnip greens, salmon (choose wild-caught if possible), spinach, Swiss chard, kale, beans, bone broth, mustard greens, beet greens, okra, raisins, sauerkraut, celery, figs, broccoli and papaya.
Why phosphorus is important to bone health? Phosphorus is the second most common and abundant mineral in the body. When combined with calcium, it is a major component of bones in the form of calcium phosphate salts. Insufficient level of phosphorus inhibits the production of calcium salts and leads to weak bones.
However, excessive amount of phosphorus in the blood, usually due to an underlying disease, is equally dangerous as well as it can cause the hardening of arteries, which in turn can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Phosphorus-rich foods: There is no lack of phosphorus as it can be found in a great variety of food. Some notable ones are salmon, ricotta cheese, sardines, beef liver, sunflower seeds, lentils, bone broth, pumpkin seeds, beans, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb and brazil nuts.
3. Vitamin D
Why vitamin D is important to bone health? Vitamin D is required to absorb bone-boosting calcium properly in the intestines. It also plays an important role in regulating the levels of calcium and phosphorus for bone formation.
Vitamin-D-rich foods: Vitamin D, aptly called the sunlight vitamin, is best obtained by regular exposure of the skin to the sun without burning. Food sources of vitamin D are mainly fishes such as mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna, halibut, sardine, flounder and sole, as well as eggs, beef liver and shiitake mushrooms.