For years people have been told that to have healthy, strong bones you need to increase your intake of calcium. But, as with most things, it isn’t quite that simple.
Yes, bones do need calcium, but that is just a small part of a very complex picture. They also need magnesium, potassium, manganese, boron, silica, Omega 3, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 to name but a few.
If you are suffering from bone loss you first have to decipher what is causing it. Poor diet high in processed foods, sugar and alcohol? Low hormone levels? Acidic diet? Excess coffee and other caffeinated drinks? Not enough exercise?
All of these can contribute to bone loss, so just increasing your calcium is not going to help.
Start by eating whole, fresh foods
If you have only a small amount of bone loss or want to prevent future bone loss, you can help by eating whole, fresh foods high in those vitamins and minerals essential for bone health.
Some foods that are great for bone health include nuts and seeds, eggs, broccoli, spinach, chia seeds, avocado, cucumber, celery and sprouted seeds. Buy organic whenever possible to increase the nutrient content.
Milk is not the best option
When most people think of the best food for bones, they think of milk. But in fact, milk is not a good way to increase your calcium levels. For starters, the calcium in milk is not as readily absorbed as in other foods. Milk also contains high levels of phosphorus and too much phosphorus can cause the body to become acidic. When this happens, calcium leaches from your bones to balance the pH of your blood and body. So the best way to get calcium into your body is through the food sources mentioned above, in particular the green leafy vegetables because of their ability to alkalise the body.
Make sure you get adequate sun exposure
The slip, slop, slap campaign has worked very well over the years to make people become aware of too much sun exposure. Problem is, it has worked too well. Low levels of Vitamin D3 (we make Vitamin D3 from exposure to the sun) are a major contributor to bone loss. Vitamin D3 (together with Vitamin K2) helps to stimulate the bone building cells and to inhibit the cells that break down bone.
So make sure you get enough sun exposure. Just enough to make your skin go a very pale pink. Ensure you don’t burn!
Eat the right type of salt
Another great way to get all those wonderful minerals essential for bone health is to use Himalayan Sea Salt which provides the ideal mineral ratios for optimal absorption and usage in the body.
Seek professional help
If you are suffering from more advanced bone loss, seek professional help. As you can see, building and maintaining strong bones is not as simple as just taking a supplement.
By Andrea Southern, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist at Stafford and The Gap in Brisbane. For an appointment phone 0412 791 705
Sources for this article include: