Healing Kitchen

Strong, healthy bones are essential for preventing osteoporosis. Dietary factors at every age promote bone health.

Bone is a dynamic tissue that requires lifelong high-quality nutrition. Calcium is a cornerstone for building and maintaining strong bones. A key partner to calcium in bone metabolism is vitamin D. In addition, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, boron, zinc, and manganese contribute to bone mass and strength. Because high levels of homocysteine are implicated in chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, B vitamins involved in homocysteine conversion, such as B12, B6, and folate (folic acid), may be beneficial in reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Because of their rich nutrient content, dairy products and green leafy vegetables, such as kale, parsley, collard greens, lettuce, and sardines with bones offer significant protection against osteoporosis. Note however, that some green vegetables are high in oxalic acid (spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, which inhibits absorption of calcium. Calcium-fortified orange juice and grapefruit juice are good sources of calcium, while enriched milk is an excellent source of vitamin D and calcium. Dietary calcium can easily be increased by drinking nonfat milkshakes instead of soda, using cottage cheese as a spread on sandwiches or toast, adding tofu to salads, substituting tofu for beef or chicken in stir-fry recipes, and adding nonfat milk to hot cereals, casseroles, or mashed potatoes.

Phytoestrogens contribute to a woman's hormone status, which influences bone health. In particular, isoflavones, especially those derived from soy, have been shown to be useful in the prevention and management of osteoporosis.

We believe that it's possible to manage and/or improve certain conditions through what you eat. When we create "Mega-Recipes" for an ailment, we strive to include the maximum number of the nutrients that are shown to have benefit for that ailment. We also expect the Mega-Recipe to contain at least 25% of recommended intakes for those nutrients. See the list of recipes that have met our criteria for this ailment.

What You Should Eat & Why

Getting enough of this mineral every day, over a lifetime, will help prevent this bone-thinning disease, which can gradually lead to bone fractures, stooped posture, and loss of height. Although the body is best equipped to absorb calcium and establish adequate bone mass (mineral content) before age 35, everyone can benefit from high calcium intake to maintain the health of bones (and teeth). If calcium levels in the blood are too low, the body will steal the mineral from the bones and supply the muscles and nerves with the amount they need.
Leading Food Sources of calcium: Broccoli, Bok choy, Milk, Yogurt, Amaranth, Salmon, Kale, Beans, dried, Cheese, fresh, Tofu, Soybeans

folic acid
High levels of homocysteine may play a role in osteoporosis because they interfere with collagen-cross-linking, which can lead to compromised bone. Folate, like B12 and B6, helps regulate homocysteine because it is critical for the conversion of the amino acid methionine to cysteine. A clinical study among post menopausal women suggests that folic acid supplementation reduced homocysteine levels, even though none of the women appeared deficient in folic acid.
Leading Food Sources of folic acid: Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, Turkey, Beans, dried, Chick-peas, Soybeans, Lentils, Oranges, Peas, fresh, Cabbage, Savoy, Avocados, Beets, Spinach

Magnesium helps the body convert vitamin D - which the body needs to take advantage of bone-strengthening calcium - into a form that it can use efficiently. By contributing to increased bone density, the mineral may help stall the onset of the debilitating, bone-thinning disease known as osteoporosis
Leading Food Sources of magnesium: Spinach, Avocados, Chocolate, Pumpkin seeds, Oysters, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Quinoa, Almonds, Barley

soy isoflavones
Soy isoflavones may aid women (and men) in maintaining bone mineral density. One study of postmenopausal women found that consuming 40 grams of soy protein a day resulted in a significant increase in bone mineral density in the spine, an area often weakened by osteoporosis. If the spine is weak, stooped posture and myriad complications may develop.
Leading Food Sources of soy isoflavones: Soybeans, Tofu, Soy products

vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential part of a B-vitamin complex that reduces levels of homocysteine, the amino acid implicated as a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin B12: Beef, Trout, Crab, Oysters, Clams, Tuna, Yogurt, Lamb

vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is an integral part of the B complex that keeps homocysteine levels in check. Adequate amounts of B6 must be consumed to ensure protection against osteoporosis.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin B6: Sweet potatoes, Bananas, Mangoes, Avocados, Barley, Bok choy, Sunflower seeds, Tuna, Chick-peas, Salmon, Pork, fresh, Potatoes, Turkey, Chicken, Rice, brown

vitamin C
Research indicates that vitamin C, an antioxidant, promotes increased bone mass and improved collagen formation, both aspects vital to staving off the bone fragility characteristic of this disease.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: Cabbage, red, Tangerines & other mandarins, Strawberries, Kiwi fruit, Oranges, Peppers, bell, red, Potatoes , Pinapple.

vitamin D
The body cannot absorb calcium from food or supplements without an adequate intake of vitamin D. Vitamin D taken along with calcium plays a critical role in maintaining bone density.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin D: Milk, Tuna, Salmon

vitamin K
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient in bone mineralization. Low levels of vitamin K have been found in people with osteopororsis-related fractures. I n addition, studies indicate that low levels of circulating vitamin K are associated with low bone density.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin K: Broccoli, Swiss chard, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Spinach, Cabbage, green, Greens, cooking

Zinc enhances mineral absorption and is essential for bone health. Over time, zinc consumption can influence copper status, so it is important to also ingest copper. Fortunately, zinc food sources also contain adequate copper.
Leading Food Sources of zinc: Barley, Crab, Lamb, Turkey, Wheat, Oysters, Beef, Chicken

Date Published: 05/03/2005
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