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Nutrition News: Strong Bones, Healthy Life

Charlyn Fargo on

My friend Joyce fell recently and broke her ankle. After surgery, she's couchbound for a while as her ankle can't bear weight. A similar thing happened to my friend Marybeth.

We all want healthy bones, and most of us know that healthy bones require adequate calcium. It's true that dairy foods generally deliver the highest amounts of calcium per serving. But there are other foods to include in your diet as well, like tofu, bok choy, kale, broccoli and calcium-fortified orange juice.

Calcium as we age is just as important as calcium for our kids. It's true that for most people the bone-building years end somewhere between age 25 and 30. After that peak is reached, bone mass is generally stable until age 50, when a steady decline begins, according to researchers at Tufts University in Boston. But there's still plenty we can do to preserve our bones. Keeping active, eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol consumption are all ways to slow down bone loss and prevent osteoporosis.

All exercise is good for bone health, especially weight-bearing activity. New research finds that all types of physical activity (swimming, yoga, tai chi, dancing, walking) are beneficial. A study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, found that a 12-minute regimen of 12 yoga poses designed to target common fracture sites (spine, hip and femur) increased participants' bone density when practiced daily over a 10-year period.

Should you take a calcium supplement? If you don't get enough calcium, it's a good safety net. Be aware that your body can only absorb 500 milligrams at a time, so choose a supplement that stays under that level. There have been news articles that supplements can cause kidney stones. However, most of the kidney stone data comes from the 2006 Women's Health Initiative trial where study participants were taking as much as 1,200 milligrams per day from supplements alone, far above the RDA of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams for most adults.

The bottom line? Work in some exercise, grab a yogurt or roast some broccoli and track your calcium like you track your calories for your bones to be strong when you need them to be.

 

Q and A

Q: Are there any foods that can help ease headaches?

A: It's well known that environmental factors such as certain foods, noise, lighting, changes in sleeping patterns, alcohol use and exposure to strong smells or allergens can trigger headaches. Research finds that vitamins and minerals found in some foods may have a positive effect on headaches by preventing, stopping or soothing symptoms. Eating some foods regularly, such as fatty fish (salmon and tuna), leafy greens (broccoli, romaine, spinach) and nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts), may reduce how often you experience headaches. Other foods, including ginger, beans and legumes, plus proper hydration, may help soothe the pain once a headache has started.

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