More Than Calcium is Required to Maintain Strong Bones

Leslie BecK, RD -

For years we’ve been told by governments and health organizations to drink milk to build strong bones and keep them healthy as we age.

Consuming enough calcium from foods such as milk is thought to protect us from osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that increases the risk of fractures, especially of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder. (Ninety-nine per cent of the body’s calcium is housed in our bones.)

Findings from large studies, however, have questioned the ability of milk to prevent osteoporotic fractures. Most have failed to find an association between milk consumption and reduced hip fracture risk.

It requires more than calcium, to maintain strong bones throughout life.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the intestines. Vitamin K, found mainly in green leafy vegetables, stimulates the production of proteins that strengthen bone.

Magnesium, plentiful in legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, is needed to synthesize hormones involved in calcium balance. Phosphorus, a mineral in dairy products, grains and protein-rich foods, works closely with calcium to form hydroxyapatite, the structural component of bones (and teeth).

Protein, too, is required for building and repairing strong bone tissue. Eating enough protein also helps preserve muscle mass, which is important for mobility and preventing falls.

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