We recently touted the benefits of a yoga practice in preventing osteoporosis (5 Yoga Poses that Prevent Osteoporosis) – a ubiquitous "silent" disease of the bones (or lose thereof) which leads to a highly fragile skeleton as we age and a host of ruinous susceptibilities. In conjunction with weight bearing exercise, it is – not shockingly – your diet that has the power to keep you strong and healthy into your golden years and beyond. And the sooner you start, the better off you will be.
When it comes to what you consume on a daily basis, you've got to cover three areas to ensure strong and healthy bones:
- Get your fill of calcium rich foods
- Limit foods that deplete your body's calcium stores
- Get your daily dose of magnesium and vitamins D and K – nutrients that help calcium do its job
Our bodies need the abundant mineral found in calcium for many vital functions, not simply to build healthy bones and teeth and maintain their vigor as we age. Among other things, calcium helps blood clot and regulates the rhythm of the heart. Do not underestimate your calcium, nor the seriousness of a calcium deficiency.
We get calcium in one of two ways; either through the foods and supplements we ingest (although you can better absorb calcium from food), or – if you're not consuming enough calcium – your body will pull it directly from your bones where it's being stored. Hence, the huge importance of getting enough!
Let's start with #3: Vitamins K and D, along with magnesium, are calcium's little helpers and every bit as crucial as Santa's Elves (yup, we said it). You need all three of them to help your body absorb, retain and regulate calcium.
Certain foods can leach the calcium from your bones. We're not saying nix them altogether, just simply become mindful to not overdo it. They include: caffeine, alcohol, animal protein, salt and soda. (That last one – maybe we'll say go ahead and nix it. Check out Top 10 Reasons to Banish Soda).
Here's what you've been waiting for. These eight superstar foods are not only rich sources of calcium, but also of magnesium, Vitamin K and Vitamin D. But keep in mind, a healthy balanced diet based on wholesome grains, fruits and vegetables is just that – healthy and balanced – and should do the trick.
- Collard Greens
- Soy: Tofu/Edamame
- Organic Dairy (though the actual health benefits of dairy are highly controversial, there's no denying it has a lot of calcium)
image: Victor Bezrukov