Understanding Calcium: How To Maintain Strong & Healthy Bones
Strong healthy bones aren’t something that’s at the top of your mind in your day to day. We tend to forget them because we can’t feel or see them. That is, until something goes wrong. As we get older, our bones start to lose more and more density until it becomes incredibly easy to fracture or break something, and breaking a bone when you’re older can lead to serious injury, disability, and even depression.
Whether or not you have good bone health is something you may not really know until it's too late.
Osteoporosis is usually called the ‘silent disease’ because bone degeneration happens without symptoms.
Most people won’t know that they have a skeletal condition until eventually, their bones become weak to the point where one day a slight strain, bump or fall causes a fracture.
Calcium is a vital nutrient for bone health but most people have no idea how it's formed in the body or where to get it.
Luckily, there are easy ways to counteract bone density loss as we age, and if you start building up your bone density when you’re young, you’ll have stronger bones as you get older and will find it easier to live an active, healthy life.
Keep reading to find out the ways to maintain strong, healthy bones with the help of calcium, foods, exercise, and sunlight.
How To Maintain Strong & Healthy Bones
1. Calcium-Rich Foods & Minerals
Contrary to what you’ve probably been told your entire life, dairy milk isn’t the only way to get the calcium you need for bone health. In fact, there are many other foods that can contribute to bone health that you might already be consuming.
CELERY is the #1 plant food you can eat because it contains the "medi-sign" or "signature" pattern of the bones (it looks just like them) for good reason.
Learn more: Why Celery Juicing Is All The Rage
Celery contains approximately 21% phytalitic or plant sodium (salt), the same as your bones. Your body needs salt in order to have strong, healthy bones.
Salt ionizes into Calcium in the body when combined with Water and Vitamin D (from Sunlight)!
That’s why the ocean is full of crustaceans and shells that are comprised of pure calcium (created by Salt, Water and Sunshine).
It's also why if you don't eat enough stalky sodium-rich foods and salt, you're likely going to wind up with brittle bones, joint and hip problems and degenerative bone diseases like Osteoporosis.
Get salt like this on your food every day and take a little bag with you whenever you dine out so that you avoid the typical restaurant version which has been infused with aluminium so that it doesn't cake.
Dark leafy greens, soy products, and lentils and beans are high in calcium, but there are plenty more sources that are easily consumed on a plant-based diet. Seeds like poppy, sesame, chia and celery seeds are nutritional powerhouses and pack high percentages of calcium (one tablespoon of poppy seeds alone contains 13% of the recommended daily intake of calcium), but almonds, whey protein, rhubarb, tofu, edamame, and fortified non-dairy milks are also delicious, easy-to-consume sources of calcium for bone health.
Remember, that 'bought and paid for' media and the dairy industry has told us for generations that we need milk to get Calcium, which is actually not so because of the way your body creates it.
While dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are indeed good sources of calcium, you absolutely don’t need to eat them to get plenty of calcium every day and there are plenty of other healthy, natural sources of calcium.
2. The Right Kinds of Exercise
Maintaining strong, healthy bones isn’t just about what you eat. It’s also about how much and how well you exercise. Just like muscles, bones need to move in order to stay strong and avoid losing density. By putting gentle stress on your bones, you’re triggering them to build up density to protect them.
You’ll want to choose targeted weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, tennis, hiking, and weightlifting. You need a variety of exercises and activities to ensure all your bones are staying healthy. At the same time, you’re also helping to strengthen the muscles around your bones, which can help you protect them, maintain your balance and avoid injury. Yoga can be great at helping you maintain balance and flexibility as you age, so you’re less prone to falls.
Try to ensure you’re getting physical activity every day, even if it’s as simple as walking the dogs or taking the stairs instead of the elevator; this habit can help you build and maintain healthy, strong bones for years to come and it takes very little extra effort or change to your daily routine.
Learn more: Top Low-Impact Exercises For Health & Wellness
3. Adequate Sun Exposure
It might be tough to see the connection between getting enough sun and maintaining healthy bones, but it’s just as important as exercise and consuming the right foods. Your body produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, and vitamin D is critical for bone health.
If your levels of calcium start to drop, vitamin D intervenes in two important ways: it travels to the intestines to help the body absorb calcium more easily, and it also travels to the kidneys to help prevent calcium loss through urine. The problem is, vitamin D is hard to get. It’s not naturally in many foods, so your body needs sunlight to help produce it, and striking the right balance of adequate sunlight without suffering from skin damage can be tough.
A good amount to strive for is 10-30 minutes of quality sunlight several times a week on your face, neck and arms. Midday typically has the strongest rays, so try getting out for a walk at lunch every other day or so. If you live in a climate with shorter days, you might need more time in the sun or a vitamin D supplement.
Learn more: 7 Key Reasons Why You Need Sunlight.
4. Help From Other Vitamins
Calcium and vitamin D aren’t the only ways for your body to maintain healthy bones. Vitamin K has been shown to play an important role in bone formation and calcium regulation. High vitamin K intake has been linked to higher bone density, and it can be found aplenty in dark, leafy greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, and collard greens.
Vitamin A has also been shown to help direct calcium to bone, but too much of the wrong type of vitamin A can actually lead to fractures, so opt for the right type by eating foods like winter squash, rockmelon, kale, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes.
5. Things to Avoid
Sometimes, maintaining healthy bones can be as much about what you don’t do as what you’re doing. As we age and our bodies find it harder and harder to maintain bone density, it’s time to be careful about what we consume.
Too much caffeine and cola are detrimental to your bone health since caffeine actually causes calcium to be excreted through the urine and cola’s high phosphorus content can weaken bones. You’ll also want to avoid consuming too much protein, since the acid that it releases into the bloodstream requires calcium from the bones to neutralize it.
Over the years, this can significantly weaken your bone health. If you’re following a plant-based diet, you likely don’t have to worry about this. If you’re not and you’re consuming dairy foods for your calcium, beware of the high saturated fat content of many dairy foods, which can lead to heart disease.
Maintaining strong, healthy bones isn’t hard to do, especially if you follow these tips, but it does get harder the older you get. Starting out as early as possible is key to help minimize your bone density loss as you age, and to ensure you can keep living a happy, healthy active lifestyle at any age.
Osteoporosis is a serious disease that often goes undetected until a serious break happens, at which point it’s too late to turn back the clock. The best part is, getting enough calcium and maximizing your bone density now is easier than ever, and you don’t need to consume dairy to do it. You can follow a healthy, plant-based diet, and go about your everyday activities such as getting physical exercise and sunlight.
No matter your age, it’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your bone health, because it’s so incredibly important for your later quality and vitality of life.
Tolman Self Care