Bones are the framework on which our body supports itself – strong bones are important for good health and good nutrition is important for strong bones. Building strong bones can help protect us from conditions such as osteoporosis later in life.
The nutrients which are particularly important for bones are calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and boron.
Calcium gives our bones strength and can be found in dairy foods as well as tinned sardines (with the bones) and green leafy vegetables. The other micronutrients mentioned help to direct calcium to our bones, rather than to soft tissues such as arteries and kidneys, where calcium build-up can cause problems.
Vitamins D and K help our bones to hold onto calcium. Vitamin D is made in our skin when it is exposed to the sun. It is also found in a few foods, including oily fish and eggs. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and some fermented foods. Magnesium is found in many nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and whole grains, and boron is found in dried fruit, bananas, apples and nuts.
Most people should be able to get all the nutrients they need for healthy bones by eating a healthy diet, however if you are concerned that you are not receiving sufficient nutrients, then you might like to consider supplementing. A nutritional therapist can advise you on the correct quantities of the different micronutrients.
Post-menopausal women are particularly at risk of osteoporosis, because their bodies have stopped producing oestrogen which has a protective effect on bones.
Of course, exercise is also important for building bone strength. Weight-bearing physical activity increases bone strength. You don’t need to have special equipment to do this kind of exercise. Shopping bags or food tins will do the job just as well.