'Bulk up on calcium': 5 superfoods for bone health in women

·Contributor
·5-min read

Being female puts you at risk of developing Osteoporosis, a disease characterised by brittle bones. Here are some facts:

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), osteoporosis is second only to cardiovascular disease as a leading global healthcare problem.

A woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. As early as age 25, you can start to lose more bone than you build, leading to progressively thinner, weaker bones as you grow older, increasing your risk for osteoporosis.

There are multiple reasons why women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men:

• Women tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men.

• Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss.

When it comes to building strong bones, there are two key nutrients: Calcium and Vitamin D. While Calcium supports your bones and teeth structure, Vitamin D improves Calcium absorption and bone growth.

Though milk and dairy products are the poster foods for Calcium, it is important to study absorption levels of different foods. For instance, while leafy green vegetables have a lower percentage of calcium than milk, they actually have higher absorption levels.

Here is a list of 5 non-dairy Superfoods that your bones will love:

Nuts

Nuts, most of which come from trees, contain calcium, but they also offer two other nutrients essential to bone health: magnesium and phosphorus. Magnesium helps our body absorb and retain calcium in the bones while phosphorus is a key component of bones - around 85 per cent of the phosphorus in your body can be found in your bones and teeth.

Nuts, most of which come from trees, contain calcium, but they also offer two other nutrients essential to bone health: magnesium and phosphorus
Nuts, most of which come from trees, contain calcium, but they also offer two other nutrients essential to bone health: magnesium and phosphorus

You can choose from a a variety of nuts – almonds, walnuts, peanuts and pecans. According to the Almond Board of California, almonds are one of the best food sources of magnesium, offering 20% of the Daily Value in a one-ounce handful. Walnuts are also a good source of copper. Severe copper deficiency is associated with lower bone mineral density and an increased risk of osteoporosis.

You can chop up these nuts and add them to your salads, or smoothies or simply grind to them to a paste and use as a dip.

Seeds

Seeds are linked to improved cardiovascular, digestive, immune and bone health; research suggests regular consumption of seeds may contribute to management of blood sugar and appetite as well as bone mineral density.

Chia seeds, flaxseed (or linseed), pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds are only a few great seed varieties to add to your diet. One ounce of sesame seeds, for instance, is an excellent source of calcium and magnesium, and a good source of phosphorus, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Seeds are great for snacking or can be added to yogurt and smoothies, grains, soups or salads for that crunch.

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Cruciferous vegetables

In other words, leafy green vegetables, like cauliflower, spinach, turnip greens, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. They provide several nutrients that support bone health, such as Vitamin K and calcium.

Vitamin K has a role in blood coagulation, but some experts have also suggested that it may help prevent or treat osteoporosis. People with low Vitamin K levels may be more likely to experience problems with bone formation.

A cup of broccoli weighing around 76 grams (g) contains 3% to 3.5% of a person’s daily need for calcium, 45–54% of their daily need for vitamin C, and 64–86% of their daily need for vitamin K
A cup of broccoli weighing around 76 grams (g) contains 3% to 3.5% of a person’s daily need for calcium, 45–54% of their daily need for vitamin C, and 64–86% of their daily need for vitamin K

According to the USDA, a cup of broccoli weighing around 76 grams (g) contains 3% to 3.5% of a person’s daily need for calcium, 45–54% of their daily need for Vitamin C, and 64–86% of their daily need for Vitamin K, depending on their age and sex. One cup of cooked kale is also an excellent source of Vitamin K and a source of calcium.

Prunes

Prunes or dried plums are rich in nutrients vital for bone health, including Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and boron, along with chlorogenic acid and other antioxidants that may help shield bones from oxidative damage.

A serving of prunes (5 medium) contains about 25% of the daily value for Vitamin K. They also contain double the amount of potassium than a banana! Potassium is a mineral that has been associated with helping maintaining bone mineral density levels and calcium balance in the body.

You can use it in your breakfast oats as a sweet but nutritious alternative to sugar.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of ergosterol, a Vitamin D precursor. That means that when mushrooms are exposed to sunlight during their growth period, they convert the ergosterol directly into Vitamin D.

Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of ergosterol, a Vitamin D precursor. That means that when mushrooms are exposed to sunlight during their growth period, they convert the ergosterol directly into Vitamin D
Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of ergosterol, a Vitamin D precursor. That means that when mushrooms are exposed to sunlight during their growth period, they convert the ergosterol directly into Vitamin D

Mushrooms are also an excellent source of copper. The Recommended Daily Allowance for copper is 900 mcg, and just one cup of cooked Shiitake mushrooms (which have the highest level of copper of any edible mushroom) provides about 65 per cent of the adult RDA.

If you include mushrooms in your meals 2-3 times a week, you can see your Vitamin D levels shoot up right away.

More stories on Women & Health and Women & Wealth — Yahoo India's special on International Women's Day 2021, here.

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