Osteoporosis: Food for strong bones

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Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle, and affects women more often than men, especially women who are past menopause.

Eating the right foods at any age can help prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones. It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet, and since our bones are predominantly made up of calcium, it is important to consume the right amount each day to ensure proper bone development.

Dairy products and green leafy vegetables are great sources of calcium. It is recommended to incorporate at least two servings of dairy into your diet each day, such as an 8-ounce glass of milk and one 6-ounce container of yogurt.

You should also try to eat at least a cup of green leafy vegetables as many days of the week as possible. Examples of vegetables high in calcium include spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage.

You can also look for foods fortified with calcium, like fortified orange juice and cereals.  It's usually best to get your nutrients from food, but supplements can help fill the gap.

Just be sure to find a calcium supplement with vitamin D that helps with absorption.  It’s important to get enough calcium, but not too much – 1300mg for 9 to 18-year-olds, 1000mg for adults.

Incorporating enough protein into your diet each day is also important for bone health, as proteins helps promote muscle function. The stronger and more functional your muscles become, the more support they offer your bones.

Because osteoporosis is a common and serious bone disease, it is important for individuals to learn how to boost bone density and prevent development of the disease later in life.

The exceptional team of dietitians at Cone Health is dedicated to educating the community about bone health and how to support it through proper diet.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Heather Colleran is a registered dietitian at Cone Health Alamance Regional Medical Center, in partnership with Elon University Athletics as their sports dietitian. Dr. Colleran earned her doctorate in philosophy in human nutrition from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2010. She earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1997, and a bachelor of science in exercise and sport science from the University of Massachusetts at Boston in 2003.