Have you noticed that your knees are a little stiff and sometimes scream at you when you try to get up off the couch? As we age we experience normal wear and tear on the joints, but we may experience a loss of bone mass as well. Not to worry though, you can avoid knee and hip replacement surgeries and their long recoveries by starting now to take better care of these joints and bones. Through exercise, diet and supplementation, you can increase bone mass and minimize your risk for osteoporosis and arthritis.
Let's start with diet. Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D are very important for healthy bones.
Vitamin D is currently the most serious Vitamin deficiency in North America. Some studies have recently shown that the mighty vitamin D also protects us against rheumatoid arthritis. Most docs now recommend between 2000 and 3000 mg. a day of vitamin D.
The new studies on calcium indicate that we only need about 500-600 mg from supplementation as we get the rest of our RDA (750-1000 total) of calcium from the foods we eat. More than that can increase you risk of heart attacks, and even increase your chance of a hip fracture!
Magnesium is an important mineral for not only bone health, but our health in general. It can reduce headaches, insomnia, and much more! My friend Dr. Carolyn Dean recommends at least 400 mg of Magnesium each day.
But, vitamins aren't the be all, end all. You should get as much of your vitamins from food as possible and here are a few foods that contain vitamin D - oily fish like Alaskan salmon or sardines, fortified soy milk, orange juice and whole grain cereals.
Calcium is plentiful in dairy, but did you know that sheep cheese has about twice as much calcium as cow's milk cheese? Also, broccoli, dried figs, kale, collards and healthy nuts like almonds can provide your body with lots of calcium. I knew there was a reason I love Almonds!
Vitamin K helps activate proteins that are involved in the structuring of bone mass. Low intake of vitamin K has been linked to low bone density. You can get your vitamin K in swiss chard, kale, parsley and spinach, broccoli and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, liver, soybean oil and wheat bran. In addition, avoid eating too much protein - excessive protein can promote calcium loss from bones - and too much caffeine and sodium can promote calcium loss so do be careful of those.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two compounds which strengthen cartilage and improve joint mobility, which then slows osteoarthritis related damage to the joints. They are available anywhere vitamins are sold, and many people have shared that their flexibility has increased with these supplements.
And you all know that Exercise is important for keeping our bones strong. Weight bearing exercises like walking, hiking, and Pilates classes are all good for our bones and our hearts.