More than 54 million people suffer low bone mass and osteoporosis in the United States. To some extent it’s a preventable condition, but if someone is affected and the condition is allowed to progress, it can lead to a bent posture, which means a loss of height, sometimes a humpback, and often acute pain.
What is osteoporosis?
If you aren’t familiar with osteoporosis, let’s define it. It’s a disease that results in the loss of bone strength to the extent that broken bones become a real risk! Although anyone can be susceptible, for the elderly, osteoporosis has become the main cause for broken bones. Weight-bearing bones in the hip, back, and forearm are most susceptible. Breaks in these important bones wreak havoc on a person’s mobility.
Unfortunately, symptoms often don’t appear until a bone actually breaks. A bone can become so weak, it may snap with very minor stress, or even spontaneously. Obviously, when that occurs, the person who has such a break experiences prolonged pain and difficulty performing their daily activities.
Causes of osteoporosis
Here are some of the conditions that create weakened bones:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Long-term use of certain medications
- Steroid use
- Low vitamin D levels
- Emotional stress
- Nutritional deficiencies
There are additional risk factors, including but not limited to:
- Gender – More women are at risk of contraction osteoporosis than men
- Age – Older people are more susceptible than younger people
- Body size – Smaller and thinner people are at greater risk
- Ethnicity and family history – If relatives historically had a low bone mass, a person has an increased potential for developing osteoporosis.
- Lifestyle and food choices – Lifestyle can affect bone mass. Bad habits such as smoking, an immoderate intake of caffeine or alcohol, and too little exercise can also affect bone strength.
- Medical conditions – Some medical conditions contribute to bone loss, including Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and hyperparathyroidism.
Foods for Osteoporosis
Eating right plays a big part in avoiding bone loss. If certain important minerals and vitamins are missing from your diet, that could result in osteoporosis. Important nutrients that keep bones strong and healthy include calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper, manganese, and vitamins D, C, and K.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of nutrients that are essential to fighting osteoporosis and the foods that contain them. Adding these minerals to your diet will help to strengthen your bones.
- Calcium is the body’s most plentiful mineral, with the greatest percentage of it it going to our bones. Ingesting enough calcium aids in reducing bone loss between 30% to 50%. Calcium-rich foods include: broccoli, kelp, kale, turnips, collard greens, sardines, almonds, soy beans, sesame seeds, chia seeds, beans, oranges, milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, Bok Choy, oatmeal, Cheerios, tofu, and eggs.
- Magnesium helps increase bone density. Magnesium has been mostly removed from processed foods, so if you eat many processed foods you aren’t getting enough magnesium. Interestingly, since magnesium works with calcium, it’s necessary to eat an appropriate ratio of the two minerals. A 2:1 ratio of calcium-to-magnesium is a good approach. Magnesium-rich foods include: brown rice, corn, buckwheat, dark green vegetables, Dandelion greens, legumes, nuts (cashew, Brazil, almonds), rye, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ/bran, and whole grain cereals.
- Zinc deficiency can cause bone loss, and copper is involved in the skeletal systems growth and development. These minerals need to be balanced in your diet. The recommendation is that 30mg of zinc should be balanced with 2mg of copper. Zinc-rich foods include: peanuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, rye, split peas, and oysters. Copper-rich foods include: crab, liver, buckwheat, peanut butter, mushrooms, split peas, seeds and nuts, and vegetable oils (olive and sunflower).
- Manganese benefits healthy bone structure, and one symptom of a deficiency is bone malformation. It’s found naturally in the body, and is concentrated in the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and bones. Manganese-rich foods include: almonds, bananas, beetroot, blackberries, brown rice, carrots, cloves, coconuts, cucumbers, figs, garlic, green beans, green vegetables, grapes, hazelnuts, kiwis, leeks, lettuce, molasses, mustard greens, nuts, oats, peppermint, pineapples, raspberries, rice, spinach, strawberries, tofu, tropical fruits, turmeric, watercress, and whole wheat. The five bolded foods are extra good because they maximize manganese absorption.
- Vitamin D is required to draw calcium into the bones. The body synthesizes vitamin D from sunlight, but not everyone gets enough sunlight to generate the amount of vitamin D needed. Vitamin D deficiency can result in bone deformities. Vitamin D-rich foods include: tuna, mackerel, herring, catfish, salmon, mushrooms, some orange juices, milk, egg yolk, cod liver oil, pork, tofu, caviar, fortified cereals, beef liver, and ricotta cheese.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps increase bone density because it promotes higher calcium absorption. Vitamin C-rich foods include: oranges, limes, grapefruit, lemons, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cantaloupe, kiwis, strawberries, pineapple, red chili peppers, Guavas, red cabbage, raspberries, apples, pears, chard, leafy greens (turnips, collard, mustard, and beet), tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, green beans, peas, watermelon, summer squash, sweet potato, carrots, and more.
- Vitamin K binds calcium and other minerals to bones, promoting bone strength. A daily dosage of 150 mcg is recommended; too high a dose can result in sweating. Also, avoid vitamin K if you take warfarin as a blood thinner. Vitamin K-rich foods include: eggs, kale, chick peas, broccoli, seeds, Brussels sprouts, dairy products, cauliflower, and vegetable oils (canola and olive).
Supplements for osteoporosis
How important are supplements for folks who don’t like many of the nutrient-rich foods identified, or—even for those who do like them—don’t always have enough time to eat a good meal? High-risk groups, including the elderly, should definitely take supplements to be certain they’re getting the needed nutrients for healthy bones. Anyone else, who knows they’re not sticking to a good diet, should consider supplements to take up the nutritional slack. You can add extra minerals to your diet with this supplement, or pick up the necessary nutrients in one fell swoop with a good multivitamin .
At our Garland Chiropractic Clinic, we have the expertise and desire to help our patients, old and new, achieve optimal fitness. And, because we’re a chiropractic clinic, we have an investment in—and a special fondness for—bone and skeletal health. Allow us to aid you in achieving that skeletal health by creating a regimen of nutrition and exercise that will enable you to develop and maintain strong bones free of osteoporosis. You can contact us at (972) 840-2520.