In honor of National Bone & Joint Health Action Week October 12-20, we thought we would write a post on simple tips for making your bones strong and healthy.
Let’s begin by asking a few questions. Is it possible to have healthy bones without taking calcium supplements? Are bone medications necessary as you age? What can you do if you have joint pain or arthritis?
Think about these questions for a minute. Why do we have such poor bone health in the United States when we have the highest intake of calcium supplements in the world along with having easy access to so many bone and joint related medications.
Calcium in the American diet is still perceived as almost synonymous with the use of dairy products. Unfortunately, dairy products are not the healthiest source of calcium. I rarely recommend taking calcium supplements or consuming dairy to improve a person’s bone health. In fact, most calcium supplements are extremely difficult for the body to absorb, leading to high levels of calcium in the blood stream and increased calcification in the vessels. Second, dairy is a poor source of calcium. 32% of available calcium is destroyed when a food is heated above 150 degrees F, making pasteurized milk a limited source of calcium. In Petuluma, California, known as “The Egg Capital of the World,” the egg farmers know that in order to have hard eggshells (so the eggs don’t break), they feed the hens kale or some form of leafy greens–not dairy. Greens, almonds, seeds, plant based milks, and bone broth will be much healthier sources of calcium.
|Food||Serving||Amount of Calcium (mg)|
|Goat’s Milk||1 cup||327|
|Collard Greens/Bok Choy||1 cup (cooked||320|
|Spinach||1 cup (cooked)||250|
|Black Eyed Peas||1 cup (cooked)||210|
|Blackstrap Molasses||1 tbsp.||180|
|Sesame Seeds/Tahini||2 tbsp.||180/50|
|Chia Seeds||2 tbsp.||140|
|Rhubarb||1 cup (raw)||110|
|Fortified Milk||1 cup||100-450|
|Kale||1 cup (raw)||100|
|Canned Salmon (with bones)||1 serving||100|
|Soybeans||½ cup shelled||80|
|Figs/Dates||2 figs/2 dates||80/30|
|Ancient Grains||½ cup cooked||75-100|
|Almonds||1 ounce (24 almonds)||75|
|Broccoli||½ cup raw||21|
Plant based milks, green vegetables, ancient grains, fish, nuts and seeds
*Dairy is high in calcium, but it’s also difficult to digest and is missing its companion mineral for bone health, magnesium. In fact, the body can only absorb 30% of the calcium found in cow’s milk. Consuming dairy can actually lead to an acidic environment in the body, which results in further depletion of calcium from our bones.
Magnesium deficiency can reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium, and about half of our magnesium is found in bones. (Rich sources of magnesium include cacao nibs, dark green, leafy vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds).
1-3 Years Old: 700 mg
Adults: 1,000 mg
|Food||Serving||Amount of Vit. D (IU)|
|Cod Liver Oil||2 tsp.||800|
|Salmon (sockeye)||3 ounces||447|
|Tuna (canned in water)||3 ounces||154|
|Fortified Milk||1 cup||150|
|Mushrooms||1 cup (raw)||133|
|Egg Yolk||1 Egg||100|
5- 10 minutes Sunlight (during summer months) – 1000 IU
35 minutes Sunlight (during winter months) – 1000 IU
*Anything over 8 SPF blocks skin from absorbing vitamin D (Coconut oil can actually be used as a natural SPF while still allowing the body to absorb vitamin D)
Fatty fish, meat, mushrooms and eggs
1-3 Years Old: 600 IU
Adults: 1,000 IU
For calcium rich recipes, check out our Target To Table Cookbook!