According to the American Dietetic Association, today (May 10th) is the day for women all around to make sure their nutrition is in check... this is so important we even get our own recognized day! Since there are so many parts to staying healthy, we will focus on bone health and calcium today.
As children, we start to build up our bone mass for the rest of our lives; so if we do not take the time to get enough calcium and vitamin D foods in our diet when we are young then our bones will be weaker as we get older. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis (or porous bone - it is a disease in which there is a loss of bone mass and destruction of bone tissue. This process causes weakening of the bones and makes them more likely to break. The bones most often affected are the hips, spine and wrists. UVA Health System, 2007). Unfortunately genetics have a major influence on our bone health; meaning if your family has strong bones then you are more likely to have them as well. If your family history has a decrease in height, brittle bones, hunching of the back and a pattern of broken hips and wrists then you are at a higher risk for osteoporosis too.
The good news is that you can still delay osteoporosis by living a healthy lifestyle, even if you have a family history of brittle bones! Start by eating foods that contain calcium and vitamin D like milk, cheese and yogurt (all in low-fat or fat-free forms), soybeans, broccoli, cooked greens, cereal, salmon, tuna and enriched pasta. You can also get vitamin D by spending 10-15 minutes in the sun a few times each week. Sometimes a calcium and vitamin D supplement is necessary to get the 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400-800 IU of vitamin D every day. Exercise is also an important part in keeping bones healthy. We need to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day with additional weight-bearing or strength training activities. It is also recommended to not smoke or drink a large amount of alcohol, so that your bones can absorb these vitamins properly.