You have to take care of your bone health, because having healthy bones gives you flexibility and support, whether you are simply reaching for your favorite dessert or jogging to keep fit. If you are conscientious about your bone health, you will experience its benefits not only today, but also in the future. Your bones are made up of various minerals and proteins. The organic part, or matrix, is primarily made up of collagen. The main mineral present in bones is calcium hydroxyapatite, which is responsible for bone strength and hardness. Although you do not feel it, your bones are actually being continuously renewed and remodeled in a process called bone homeostasis. Cells called osteoblasts form the matrix and become transformed into osteocytes as they become surrounded by the matrix. Cells called osteoclasts are responsible for resorption. Think of osteoblasts as those adding more bones, and osteoclasts as those eating up and removing bones.
The actions of osteoblasts and osteoclasts are regulated by how much calcium and phosphorus are present in your body. When your blood calcium level is low, bone resorption occurs to a greater extent, in order to supply calcium to the rest of the body. When your blood calcium level is high, you either have bone deposition or calcium excretion through the urine. Minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, also contribute to the way bones are formed or resorbed. Stress on the bones makes bone formation more prominent. These are the reasons why promotion of bone health does not simply mean calcium intake.
Calcium is a main component of your bones, so it is important to have this mineral in your regular diet. Vitamin D also regulates bone deposition and resorption. There are many foods that contain both calcium and vitamin D. A cup of fortified milk contains about 430 mg of calcium and 100 IU of vitamin D. Canned salmon contains about 608 IU of vitamin D and 200 mg of calcium. Other sources of vitamin D include egg yolk, herring, mackerel and tuna. Plant sources of calcium include tofu, soy products, beans, nuts, okra, turnips, kale, broccoli and seaweed.
Magnesium is an important mineral for bone health because it helps form the organic bone matrix. It also facilitates absorption of calcium from your intestine. Therefore, it is important to take magnesium together with calcium in your diet. Magnesium is present in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, oats, yogurt and milk.
Phosphorus is a mineral present in meat and poultry products, milk and other dairy products, eggs, fish, beans and nuts. Potassium is a mineral found in bananas, avocados, potatoes, spinach, broccoli and mushrooms.
As mentioned, stress promotes bone formation. The stress that can give you the most benefit is the weight-bearing type, which means you have to work against gravity. Examples of weight-bearing exercises are strength training (push ups), weight training, jogging and running. Swimming and cycling are good for developing your muscle bulk and strength, but they do not provide the same amount of benefit that weight-bearing exercises have on bones. Optimally, you have to exercise at least 30 minutes daily.