Foods to Help Manage Osteoporosis

Posted by Mitch Jerome (admin) on Nov 23 2010
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Foods to Help Manage Osteoporosis

Calcium and other essential bone-healthy foods become even more important after a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

When you're diagnosed with osteoporosis, it's only natural to wonder if there is anything you can do to help your bones on your own. Fortunately, the answer is yes. The moment you leave the doctor’s office, you can start making smarter food choices that will benefit your bone health.

Foods can help you manage osteoporosis.

The Osteoporosis Diet: What You Need Now

“The prevention and treatment recommendations for osteoporosis are very much the same and largely involve calcium and vitamin D, and getting a lot of fruit and veggies in the diet as well,” says Felicia Cosman, MD, clinical director for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. An osteoporosis-friendly diet is important even if you are taking medications that will help slow bone loss and prevent fractures.

A bone-healthy diet may not help rebuild your bones if you are experiencing age-related bone loss, but it can slow bone loss. However, younger people who are diagnosed with osteoporosis as a result of a medical condition or a period of extended bed rest may be able to regain bone mass with a program that includes osteoporosis-friendly nutrition.

The Osteoporosis Diet: Calcium, Vitamin D, and More

These dietary recommendations can help people who have osteoporosis:

  • Get your recommended daily dose of calcium. Calcium is key to maintaining healthy bones. Dietary supplements are an option, but it is best to try to get calcium through the foods you eat if possible; your doctor will tell you if you should do both. Adults should aim for 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, but if you are over age 50, you need 1,200 mg of calcium every day, 1,300 mg after menopause. Requirements have not yet been set for people who already have osteoporosis, although taking more than 2,500 mg of calcium can work against other needed nutrients in your body and is not recommended. Good food sources of calcium include:
    • Low-fat dairy products such as skim milk or ricotta cheese
    • Canned sardines in oil with bones
    • Calcium fortified juices and other foods
    • Dark, leafy green vegetables

    Simply adding some cheese or broccoli to your dinner plate can improve the bone healthiness of your meal. Dairy remains the best source of calcium, which poses a problem for people who are lactose intolerant. Yogurt may be an option for you if you're lactose intolerant, as it is often better tolerated than other dairy products. Taking a supplement called lactase enzyme with dairy products can also help some people who are lactose intolerant to digest.

  • Get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body use the calcium you eat. The best source of vitamin D is natural sunlight — 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen is all you need each day. However, people who should not be exposed to direct sunlight, such as skin cancer patients, can get vitamin D from supplements. Aim for about 400 to 800 IU a day (some doctors recommend higher doses). There are few foods with vitamin D, though some cereals and juices come fortified with the vitamin. Other choices include:
    • Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines
    • Egg yolks
    • Fortified dairy products such as milk
  • Eat fresh produce. Your bone health relies on a varied diet containing many different vitamins and minerals. Aim to eat a rainbow of colors when it comes to fruits and vegetables. As an additional benefit, a study of 171 adults showed that those whose diets were more alkaline, which can be achieved by eating more fruits and vegetables, retained more calcium.
  • Moderate your alcohol consumption. Alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium, so it's best to keep your consumption to a minimum: one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men.
  • Cut out caffeine and carbonated beverages. Caffeinated drinks and sodas both have a negative impact on your bone health.
  • Cut back on salt. Eating salty foods causes your body to lose more calcium.

The Osteoporosis Diet: Putting It all Together

Some hearty dishes can give you a wallop of calcium and vitamin D, especially those that combine milk, cheese, eggs, and certain fish, like tuna noodle casserole, macaroni and cheese, ricotta pancakes, and salmon chowder. You can find a variety of calcium-rich recipe resources in your local bookstore and online. One such resource is the interactive recipe finder, created by the International Osteoporosis Foundation, which includes bone healthy meal ideas from across the globe.

Creating a healthier diet after being diagnosed with osteoporosis doesn’t have to be a chore, especially if you accept the challenge to prepare tasty, calcium, and vitamin D-rich dishes that can help protect your bones.



Last changed: Nov 23 2010 at 10:36 PM


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