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Do you know the best foods to eat to create a strong structure for your body? Here are some key nutrients that help support strong bones.
Ask most people what nutrients are needed to support bone health and they’ll likely say calcium and vitamin D. And they would be right, of course. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body (most of it is socked away in our bones and teeth), and vitamin D is critically important in helping the body absorb calcium. But many other nutrients play an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy.
Bone is a living, growing tissue. It’ made up of a collagen, a protein that forms a soft framework for bone, and a mineral component called hydroxyapatite, made primarily of calcium and phosphorus which are deposited in this framework to give bones strength and hardness. In addition to protein, calcium and phosphorus, there are other nutrients that help support bone health. Here are some key bone-building nutrients and where to find them.
Calcium makes up about 2% of your total body weight, and most of it is stored in your skeleton.
Where to find it: Milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.), almonds, green leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body, and it combines with calcium to form the crystalline structure of bone.
Where to find it: Phosphorus is in many different foods, and most people get plenty in the diet. Major sources include milk, fish, poultry, meat, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the digestive tract.
Where to find it: Fatty fish, liver, some fortified foods. Many people don’t consume enough vitamin D, however, and may benefit from taking supplements.
Magnesium stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to move calcium from the bloodstream into the bones. It’s also needed to convert vitamin D into its active form, which, in turn, supports calcium absorption.
Where to find it: Green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Potassium helps to maintain calcium balance in the body, and it helps to reduce the loss of calcium in urine.
Where to find it: Melons, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, oranges, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans.
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein matrix of bone tissue.
Where to find it: Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwifruit, peppers, green leafy veggies.
Boron is a mineral that supports the body’s use of other bone-building nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
Where to find it: Dried fruits like prunes, raisins and apricots, also peanut butter and avocados.
Susan is the Sr. Director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife, where she is responsible for the development of nutrition education and training materials, and is one of the primary authors of the Herbalife-sponsored blog, www.discovergoodnutrition.com. She is a Registered Dietitian and holds two Board Certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and a Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management. Susan is also a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Susan graduated with distinction in biology from the University of Colorado, and received her master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University. She then completed her dietetic internship at the University of Kansas. Susan has taught extensively and developed educational programs targeted to individuals, groups and industry in her areas of expertise, including health promotion, weight management and sports nutrition.
Prior to her role at Herbalife, she was the assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, and has held appointments as adjunct professor in nutrition at Pepperdine University and as lecturer in nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Susan was a consultant to the (then) Los Angeles Raiders for six seasons, and was a contributing columnist for the Los Angeles Times Health Section for two years. She is a co-author of 23 research papers, 14 book chapters, and was a co-author of two books for the public: “What Color is Your Diet?” and “The L.A. Shape Diet” by Dr. David Heber, published by Harper Collins in 2001 and 2004, respectively.