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Foods that contain key bone health nutrients

Protecting your bones is very crucial for your survival otherwise you would collapse like a big dollop of jelly

Deepa Gupta | New Delhi |

Bones are very important for us because they provide a frame for the body and protect vital organs. Bones and muscles work together when we perform any physical activity. Without bones, our body would collapse like a big dollop of jelly. Our vital organs like heart and lungs are protected by the structure of bones. Bones are mostly made of the protein collagen which forms a soft framework. The mineral calcium phosphate hardens this framework by giving it strength.

Bones perform many roles in our body. They support the body structurally, protect vital organs and enable us to move. Not only this, they also provide an environment for bone marrow where the blood cells are created. Bones act as a storehouse for mineral like calcium too. Having a balanced diet provides adequate nutrients for bone health. The nutrients-based diet eliminates the need to take most supplements. Take special attention to ensure that you meet your daily requirement of key bone-health nutrients through foods. Daily requirement for these nutrients may change with age. These key nutrients for bone health include calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. There are many foods which are a rich source of these nutrients. Read on to know about them.

Calcium: Although many foods are a good source of calcium but dairy products top the list by providing the mineral in maximum amount. Calcium-rich foods include – dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli, cabbage, collards and okra), seeds (poppy, sesame and chia), nuts like almonds, dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt), soy beans, breads made of fortified flour, salmon and sardines with bones. However spinach is an exception to this category of mineral. It does not provide calcium. You should get all the calcium your body requires from your daily diet.

Magnesium: Magnesium is found in many foods. These foods include whole grains, avocado, figs, raspberries, banana, artichokes, legumes (peas, green beans and black beans), green vegetables (spinach, kale, okra, collards and Brussels sprout), tofu, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds (chia, poppy and sesame) and seafood (salmon, mackerel and tuna). Not only the mineral itself helps build bones but also it maintains the proper levels of other minerals such as calcium which are needed for good bone health. A sufficient magnesium intake can reduce the risk of bone fractures too.

Vitamin D: There are not many food sources of vitamin D. Food alone is also not enough to get adequate amount of this nutrient. So many people benefit from supplements. Egg yolk, fatty fish (salmon, swordfish, tuna, sardines and mackerel), fortified foods (some dairy products, cereals, orange juice and soy milk), cheese and mushrooms are rich food sources of vitamin D. Fish is one of the best sources to get vitamin D from food. Other than foods, sunshine is a good source to provide you with vitamin D content naturally.

Are you getting enough of these nutrients? Many people do not. You may need higher levels of these nutrients, especially if you are not getting enough of them or you are at risk of osteoporosis. Add these bone health nutrient-rich foods to your salad, yogurt, porridge, stir fry and smoothie. The best ways to get healthier bones are through diet, sunshine and exercise.