If you take a calcium supplement every day for bone health, you’re certainly doing something right. But if you think that’s all you need, then you could be in trouble.
Several nutrients are important to bone health, and calcium is just one. But to do the best for your bones, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting enough calcium, vitamin D, protein, and more.
If you’re eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and seeds, you’re likely getting everything you need for strong, healthy bones. That said, the aging process may require a little extra effort in some areas.
Why? For a couple of reasons. One is that nutrient absorption can decrease with age. Another is that appetite goes down with age, so you literally might not be hungry enough to eat all the essential nutrients needed for bone health.
Here are the nutrients that might require a little extra attention:
Calcium: Calcium is one of the main ingredients for healthy bones and is also essential for your cells, heart, and muscles to function optimally. You don’t make calcium on your own and need to get it from food or supplements.
If you don’t have enough calcium in your bloodstream for all its functions, the body draws from the supply in bone. Over time, these withdrawals can lead to weak, soft, and thin bones if calcium is not being replaced.
Think of it like a bank account where withdrawals exceed deposits.
To keep calcium levels where they need to be, try and get 1200 milligrams (mg) per day for women, and 1,000 – 1,200 mg for men. You can supplement or get it from dairy, nuts, leafy greens, fruit, and seafood.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for bone health because it’s required for calcium absorption. The body only makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, which can carry some risk. And depending on where you live, it can prove challenging during specific periods of the year.
Supplements are the best source of vitamin D, with ideal dosing falling in the 600 – 1,000 IU per day range.
Protein: Proteins are the building blocks of life, helping to build and repair bones. They provide the scaffolding for your bones, while nutrients like calcium and phosphorus help stiffen and add volume.
Protein is highly available in lean meats like poultry, eggs, dairy, nuts, fish, and beans. But it can also take a bit of an appetite to get enough. Try to have a serving of protein with every meal, and even consider a daily protein supplement.