Bone plays important roles in our body. It forms the skeletal structure, which frames the body and provides anchor for the skeletal muscle as well as protecting important organs such as the heart, lungs and brain.

The key nutrients that are important for bone health are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, Vitamin D and Ipriflavone. Getting sufficient of these key nutrients in your diet will contribute to improving bone health.

1) Calcium

Calcium is the key building block of bone. The body is continuously removing and replacing calcium. When the rate of removal is faster than the rate of replacement, it will affect the bone density. This phenomenon is called osteoporosis.

How much calcium do we need?

  • Baby less than 6 months – 400 mg/day
  • Children 6 months – 1 years old – 600 mg/day
  • Children 1 – 10 years old – 800 mg/day
  • Young adults 11 – 24 years old – 1200-1250 mg/day
  • Adults 25 – 50 years old – 1000 mg/day
  • Menopausal women – 1000- 1500 mg/day
  • Adults older than 65 years – 1500 mg/day
  • Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers – 1500 – 2000 mg/day

Rich source of calcium can be found in dairy products, nuts, seeds, mackerel, soya bean, or soy products and green leafy vegetables.

Supplements of calcium should be in the form of calcium citrate, calcium malate or chelated forms that are more easily absorbed. Avoid, the more common form of supplement such as calcium carbonate, which is chalk, is not as easily absorbed.

2) Phosphorus

Next to calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body. It works together with calcium to give healthy bone. 85% of the phosphorus is found in bone and teeth. Protein rich foods are rich in phosphorus; meat, eggs, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes.

Calcium–phosphorus balance is important to bone health. When phosphorus level is too high, the body takes calcium from the bone to bind with phosphorus and remove it from the blood.

3) Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. 50% of the magnesium is found in the bone. It helps with the absorption of calcium from food.  The chlorophyll in green leafy vegetables is a rich source of magnesium. Nuts, seeds and unrefined grains are also rich in magnesium.

4) Vitamin D

Vitamin D is made in the skin in the presence of sunlight. Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, promoting the growth and remodeling of bone. It also promotes calcium absorption from the intestine.

As most of the vitamin D is made from sun exposure, the amount manufactured depends on whether you are fair skin or darker skin. Fair skinned people only need a few minutes of exposures in bathing suit in a noonday sun in summer without sunscreen. If you are tan or darker tone, about 15-20 min is enough. Black skinned people may need 6 times more sun exposure than fair-skinned people to get the same amount of vitamin D. This recommendation is only for reference, as more research needs to be done to collect more data.

5) Ipriflavone

This is a synthetic isoflavone derived from soy plant. It inhibits bone resorption and maintains bone density, preventing menopausal osteoporosis. It slows done bone lost and improve bone mass. This is used as a treatment for weak bone and pain from osteoporosis.

6) Boron

Boron is found in high concentration in the bone. Adequate Boron intake reduce the lost of calcium and magnesium in the urine. Deficiency in Boron can lead to arthritis. Food rich in Boron is fruits, vegetables, legumes and dried fruits.

What increases the risk of bone loss?

  • A diet high in animal based protein, salt and alcohol. This cause the body to be acidic which cause leaching of calcium
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Low body weight
  • Smoking

Are you getting enough of these nutrients to improve bone density and taking care to reduce the risk of bone loss? Share with me what you are doing to improve bone health.

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