Your skeletal system consists of all of the bones in your body as well as the cartilage, tendons and ligaments that help keep them all connected. Your skeletal system provides the shape to your body, as well as protects the body and allows it to move. In order to keep your skeletal system healthy, it is important that you consume the right nutrients every day.
As you grow, your body constantly breaks down bone and forms new bone to replace the old bone. This regeneration process occurs throughout your entire lifetime, although it occurs more frequently during periods of rapid growth. In order to regenerate new bone, your body uses calcium to produce a structure called hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite provides the strength for your bones. If calcium is not available in your body, the newly formed bone will be weak and brittle. Eventually, this can lead to the bone disease called osteoporosis.
To ensure that your bones stay healthy, aim to consume at least 1,200mg of calcium every day. The best sources of calcium include milk, yogurt and cheese. Other good sources include broccoli, kale, canned salmon with the bones and calcium-fortified foods.
Your body uses the mineral phosphorus in combination with calcium to form hydroxyapatite. Because of this, the presence of phosphorus in the body is just as essential to bone health as calcium.
To keep phosphorus levels in the body with normal ranges, it is important to consume 700mg of phosphorus daily. Good sources of phosphorus include meat, fish, poultry and dairy products.
When vitamin D becomes active in your body, it acts as a hormone that helps regulate calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in your small intestine and ensures that the minerals are available in your bloodstream. Because of its role in increasing absorption of these minerals, vitamin D ensures that your bone stays healthy.
Adults should consume 5 to 15mcg of vitamin D daily. The best dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, breakfast cereal, yogurt and fatty fish. Vitamin D can also be synthesized in your skin with the help of ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Vitamin C acts as a coenzyme in your body, which means that it helps chemical reactions take place. One of the most important coenzyme functions of vitamin C is its role in synthesizing the amino acids that are needed to make collagen. Collagen, which is the most abundant protein in your body, supports and connects the bones in your skeletal system.
Women require 75mg of vitamin C daily, whereas men should consume 90mg per day. The best sources of vitamin C include oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, broccoli and cantaloupe.
- MedlinePlus: Calcium and bones
- "Nutrition and You"; Joan Salge Blake; 2008