The good news is that there's plenty you can do, no matter how old you are, to bolster your bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Get enough Vit D3 from sunlight: It has been calculated that if you expose your skin to sun in a bathing suit long enough to produce slight redness of the skin, you'll produce the equivalent of 10,000-25,000 IU of oral vitamin D. In South African climate, just five to ten minutes in the sun two to three times a week, exposing your hands, legs, and arms, is more than adequate to satisfy your vitamin D requirements. Sticking to these guidelines means you're also not likely to significantly increase your risk of skin cancer in the process.
Take your vitamins: Unless you get adequate vitamin D especially from the sun, about half the calcium you take ends up down the toilet. Vitamin D helps your body better absorb calcium from food. Most people don't get enough vitamin D from sources such as food and sunlight, and supplements are necessary (the vitamin is also linked to numerous other health benefits, including preventing cancer and heart problems). How much you need is debatable: many experts advise that the currently recommended levels of 600 IU daily are too low and that we need up to 2,000 IU or more for optimal health. In addition, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin K, potassium, and phosphorus are each linked to better bone health. You can get your recommended intake of these from a combination of a regular multivitamin and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Take Vitamin K2: Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of calcium from bones, shifting them from their healthy hard state to a diseased state of softness. Atherosclerosis, on the other hand, is characterized by excessive flow of calcium into arterial walls, shifting them from their healthy flexible state to a diseased state of hardness. Insufficiency of vitamin K2 contributes to this unhealthy balance as vitamin K is necessary to direct Calsium into the bones where it should be and vitamin K2 redirects Calsium from the arteries into the bones. Vitamin K2 is critical because the biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove Calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.
Get enough calcium: This mineral is the main component of bone, and women need at least 1,000 mg a day--1,200 after menopause. Yet 64% of us don't get enough, especially after age 50, when adult intake averages just 784 mg a day. Eat calcium-rich dairy foods and consider taking two 500 mg supplements a day. Take the supplements at separate times, i.e. one at breakfast and the other at dinner, this is advised because the body can absorb only about 500 mg at a time. Additional food sources include fat-free milk, which provides a third of the daily value for calcium, ready-to-eat cereals, and fresh broccoli.
In the book “The Calcium Lie”, Dr. Robert Thompson M.D. addressed this important issue in his book. It is discussed that bone is composed of at least a dozen minerals, and if you focus exclusively on calcium supplementation you are likely going to worsen your bone density. This will actually lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Interestingly, Dr Robert proposes that one of the best practical alternatives to use in daily lives, is the use of natural, unprocessed salts, such as Himalayan salt, as they are one of the best sources of a wide variety of trace minerals.
To naturally increase your bone density and decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis eat high-quality, organic, biodynamic, locally-grown food. Omega-3 fat content also plays a major role in building healthy bone, so ensure you get enough of this important substance.
It is vital to eat the right kinds of food for a comprehensive strategy towards healthy bones. If you diet only comprises of processed foods, this can trigger biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body, which inturn will decrease bone density. Avoiding such unhealthy foods is a positive step in the right direction!
Mind your Sodium-Potassium levels:
Two additional nutrients that play an important role in bone health are sodium and potassium. It is important to maintain the optimal ratio between these two in order to maintain the correct bone mass. If your diet includes many processed foods, there's a very good chance your potassium to sodium ratio is far from optimal, because such processed foods are notoriously low in potassium while high in sodium. If your body is in a state of imbalance in regards to sodium & potassium, this wrong ratio can contribute to a number of diseases, including osteoporosis. An easy way to ensure you get these two important nutrients in more appropriate ratios, simply ditch processed foods! They are very high in processed salt and low in potassium and other essential nutrients, which in a nutshell make them bad for your body. Instead, eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organically grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium, which is optimal for your bone health, and your overall health. If you find it difficult to eat the recommended amount of vegetables, give vegetable juicing a try.
Other components in food: Phytic acid and oxalic acid, is found naturally in some plants, they bind to calcium and can inhibit its absorption. Foods with high levels of oxalic acid include spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and beans. Among the foods high in phytic acid are fiber-containing whole-grain products and wheat bran, beans, seeds, nuts, and soy isolates. The extent to which these compounds affect calcium absorption varies. It is interesting to note that research shows, for example, that eating spinach and milk at the same time reduces absorption of the calcium in milk.
Take a test: If you are a high risk patient to Osteoporosis it is crucial to get screened for osteoporosis, because one of the scariest things about this bone-thinning condition is that it doesn't cause symptoms and takes decades to develop. Ask your doctor when you need a bone mineral density test (some recommend them at age 65, some at menopause, and some even earlier if you're at an increased risk). Common risk factors to keep in mind include a family history, broken bones as an adult, being Caucasian or Asian, a small frame, certain medications, or conditions that increases risk, such as inflammatory bowel disease or multiple sclerosis.