Simply be being a woman you are at risk for developing weak, brittle bones when you get older, particularly after menopause when estrogen levels drop and bone density decreases. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 80% of sufferers in America are women. Hispanic women in particular should be wary of this disease as many are lactose intolerant, making it difficult to get enough calcium from a healthy diet. Making sure that you are getting plenty of calcium and other key bone nutrients from a variety of whole foods can help to keep your bones strong and healthy.
Now you have one more reason to eat your broccoli. This green veggie is high in vitamin K, an important vitamin for bone building. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, higher levels of vitamin K in the body are associated with greater bone density and a lower risk for fractures. Other dark leafy greens like asparagus and spinach are good sources as well.
Yogurt and other dairy products are rich in calcium, the most important mineral for building strong bones. The great thing about yogurt is that it has lower levels of lactose than a glass of milk, so it is easier to tolerate if you are lactose intolerant. Look for yogurt that is fortified with vitamin D, another essential nutrient for osteoporosis prevention.
This fatty fish is excellent for women’s health. Not only are the omega-3 fatty acids great for your cardiovascular health, but the high amount of vitamin D in salmon is great for protecting your bones. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium. You can also raise levels of this nutrient in the body with 15 minutes of sunlight, just be careful of too much sun exposure. UV rays can increase your risk for skin cancer and contribute to skin aging.
To help prevent osteoporosis, snack on edamame. Sip on a soy milk hot chocolate. Experiment with different healthy tofu dishes. Soy beans and soy products are good for your bones because of their calcium and vitamin K content, and they make a fantastic dairy substitute for those with lactose intolerance.
Almonds are a calcium-rich food that often get overlooked. These nuts are also a good source of magnesium. About half of all the magnesium found in the body is found in bone tissue. When you want a healthy snack, have a handful of almonds! Mix them with pieces of dark chocolate and dried fruit for a delicious trail mix.
You may not have to worry about osteoporosis now, but when you are older you will be at risk. The more you take care of your bone health when you are young, the better off you will be when you are older. Eat a variety of foods that are high in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium and fortify your bones!