May 17, 2012

May is National Osteoporosis Prevention Month

By Chrissy Watters, MS, RD, LDN
Hy-Vee Registered Dietician
(309) 793-0684

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation,
• 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis.
• Approximately 24 percent of hip fracture patients age 50 and older die in the year following their fractures.
• 20 percent of those with osteoporosis are men.

Even though 85 percent of adult bone mass is acquired by age 20, adults can still make lifestyle choices to improve bone health. You can help prevent osteoporosis by getting enough exercise, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D.

Foods to help prevent osteoporosis

Dairy products. Dairy products, such as low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, are the easiest way to reach your calcium needs. Just one cup of milk or yogurt contains around 300 mg of this bone-strengthening mineral. However, it is not realistic for everyone to get their calcium from dairy alone. Some people have milk allergies or lactose intolerance, choose a vegan diet or simply don’t like the taste of dairy. Alternatives such as lactose-free, soy, almond and rice milk typically have the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk. Calcium supplements are another option. Remember to spread your calcium intake throughout the day – it is absorbed best if you consume 500 mg or less at one time.
Vitamin D is very important because it helps your body use calcium. The milk you buy in the grocery store usually has vitamin D added to it. Other food sources containing Vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines, shitake mushrooms and eggs. One cup of milk or yogurt typically has 100 IU of vitamin D, 3 ounces of salmon has around 450 IU and 1 large egg contains 40 IU.

Fish. Canned sardines and salmon (with bones) are good ways to get calcium. You can also get calcium from eating canned shrimp. Three ounces of canned salmon has around 180 mg of calcium.

Fortified foods. Calcium and vitamin D are sometimes added to certain brands of juice, soy milk, rice milk, cereals, snacks and breads. This is a great way to get more calcium and vitamin D intake daily. Read the food labels on packages to learn how much of each nutrient the food contains.

Fruits and vegetables. Several studies have linked higher intakes of fruits and vegetables with better overall health and improved bone health. Some scientists believe this is because fruits and vegetables contain certain nutrients that are beneficial for bones. Some examples of these nutrients are calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. Fruits and vegetables rich in these nutrients include dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens and spinach, tomato products, oranges and papaya. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and you’ll be sure to get a mix of these nutrients.

Know Your Numbers

How much calcium and vitamin D do you need each day to help prevent osteoporosis? Women 50 years and over need 1200 mg of calcium each day. Men get away with only 1000 mg of calcium a day until the age of 70, when they need to increase to 1200 mg as well. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU each day for both women and men over 50. This number goes up to 800 IU a day for anyone 70 or over. Some individuals have low blood levels of vitamin D and may need more each day. Your doctor can recommend the right vitamin D dose for you.

For more information on ways to prevent osteoporosis or increase your nutrient intake, ask your Hy-Vee dietitian.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.