Got Calcium? How to Protect Your Bone Health
By KERI GANS
In the world of Paleo, vegan and dairy-free trends, calcium-rich foods are too often banned, which can create a calcium deficiency and an increased risk of osteoporosis. In fact, more than 90 percent of women over the age of 50 are not getting the recommended levels of calcium.
My clients always say that with their busy schedules it can be hard enough just to find time for healthy meals and exercise, let alone trying to incorporate foods that support bone health. No matter how busy you are, there are easy ways to get your calcium that can be incorporated into an everyday diet.
[Read More: Is “Coffee Hacking” a Bad Idea?]
First, you should know how much calcium your body really needs. Girls and women up to age 50 require 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation -- this is for bone development and to help maintain bone strength.
Women age 50 and above require 1,200 milligrams daily to help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. Since men are less prone to bone loss, their requirements are 1,000 milligrams up to age 70 and 1,200 milligrams for 70 and above.
If these numbers are intimidating to you, here are some easy tips to help ensure you're getting your calcium and protecting your bones:
Eat calcium-rich foods that don't include dairy. Make small improvements to your daily salad for a nondairy alternative to getting your calcium. Kale, broccoli, collard greens and legumes all naturally contain calcium and are part of a well-balanced diet.
Make your own smoothies. While smoothies are traditionally a healthy snack, the store-bought varieties are often very high in sugar. A better option is making your own smoothie at home. Make it with low-fat yogurt and milk to ensure it's rich in calcium, and add in as many of your favorite veggies and fruits as you'd like. Plus, you can add in a couple of toppings for an extra nutritional punch. I like almond slices, chia seeds and pomegranates for a great boost of flavor.
Hit the gym. Supplement your cardio routine with weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises to maintain bone strength. Doing yoga, lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands or performing push-ups and planks two to three days a week can help keep your bones strong.
[Read More: 8 Reasons to Love Apple Cider Vinegar]
Take calcium supplements. Even if you have milk in your cereal or have a yogurt at lunch, consuming the recommended levels of calcium per day is still a challenge. Talk to your doctor about supplementation that delivers calcium and vitamin D for optimal absorption. A supplement with both calcium and vitamin D will be easier for you to remember to take every day.
Get a bone-density test. Undergoing a bone density test can help you better understand your bone health and the necessary precautions you should be taking. Bone density can vary based on a number of genetic and medical factors. Your doctor can help you understand your results and make recommendations.
When it comes to your bone health, the important thing to remember is that getting your calcium is just as important as eating fruits and veggies. Protect your bones now to help prevent osteoporosis later.
Readers -- Do you know if you're getting enough calcium in your diet? Have you talked to your doctor about your calcium needs? Do you follow any of the tips mentioned above to protect your bone health? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Keri Gans, M.S., RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, speaker, spokesperson and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans' expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Women's Health, Self, SHAPE and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, FOX Business and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio. Keri is a spokesperson for Adora® Calcium Supplements.