Wellness: A guide to a healthy everyday diet that strengthens your bones 

author_img Deepika Rathod Published :  04th June 2020 05:12 PM   |   Published :   |  04th June 2020 05:12 PM


Bones are an integral part of our body, and have many important functions ranging from providing structure, protecting organs, storing calcium, etc. We tend to miss out on taking care of these vital parts and then we start facing various issues. We shall take a look at few of such issues that a person generally faces around bone health. Let’s first talk about osteoporosis — which is a condition that describes a decrease in bone density, which in turn decreases its strength and results in fragile bones. This condition leads to abnormally porous bones that are compressible exactly like a sponge. This disorder of the skeleton weakens the bone and results in frequent fractures (breaks) of the bones.

Osteopenia is another condition in which the bones are slightly less dense when compared to normal but not to the degree of osteoporosis. It is a progressive bone disease that is characterised by decrease in bone mass and density which leads to an increased risk of fractures later. 

Then there is osteomalacia that also refers to the softening and weakening of the bones, due to impaired bone metabolism that leads to inadequate bone mineralisation. Osteomalacia isn’t the same as osteoporosis. When there is a problem with bone formation or with the bone building process, that’s when it leads to osteomalacia; whereas osteoporosis is a weakening of that bone that has already been formed and is remodeled.

Osteoporosis and other bone conditions basically occur due to calcium and Vitamin D3 deficiencies. Bones need calcium and phosphorus to remain healthy and strong, but the body also needs Vitamin D to be able to absorb these two minerals well. Without this very important vitamin, our bones can become soft and flexible.

With osteoporosis, bone loss can occur over years and can be severe as well, often so severe that the normal stress on bones from sitting, standing or coughing, can result in pain and immobility. After the first fracture, you are at risk of more fractures. These future fractures may cause you to live with daily chronic pain, and in some cases, some degree of disability.

At menopause, there’s a dramatic decline in the female hormone, estrogen.  This decline in estrogen slows the bone remodeling process and causes an accelerated rate of bone loss.  This more rapid loss of the bones continues for about  10  years after menopause.  The rate of bone loss eventually returns to premenopausal levels.  But bone formation does not. This causes post-menopausal women to have a  much greater chance of having a fracture. In  addition,  having an early menopause  (before the age of 40)  also increases the chance of osteoporosis and fractures.  Having prolonged periods when the menstrual cycle is irregular can also cause loss of bone mass and osteoporosis.

It is important to improve the intake of calcium and  Vitamin  D.  Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption. Calcium is the most common mineral in the body,  about  99 per cent of which is  in bones and teeth, the  remainder being  in  the  blood  and  soft  tissue,  where  the concentration  range  is narrow  to facilitate bodily  functions.  This  is  so  important  that  the body  will pull  calcium  from  the bones  to maintain  other  levels  if  calcium  intake  is  insufficient. It  is  best  for the  people  to  begin  adequate  calcium  intake  at  an  early  age  as  the  bone mass begins  to  decrease after  the age  of  30. The  best  sources  of  calcium  include sesame seeds, ragi, organic A2 milk, and its products,  leafy  greens,  seafood/bony fish, and  legumes. Not  only  calcium,  other minerals like magnesium,  phosphorous  and  boron  also  contribute to  the bone  health.  Hence,  including magnesium  and  phosphorus rich sources like – whole  grains, lean  cuts  of  chicken,  beans  and  lentils,  nuts  and  leafy  vegetables,organic A2 milk and  milk products  is important. The best and most reliable source of Vitamin D is morning sunlight! We should  ensure  that  the  body  is  adequately  exposed  to  the sun  during the  day  to  synthesise  a  good  amount of Vitamin  D.  Foods like mushrooms,  fatty fish  (tuna,  mackerel,  salmon),  cod liver oil, and egg yolks,  etc.  do contain  Vitamin  D  in  some  amounts.  In  most  cases,  additional supplementation  of calcium  and  Vitamin  D  are required (it’s  best  to  get the  levels  checked  before supplementation). One  should  consume  calcium/Vitamin  D3  supplements on  an  empty  stomach  as  these nutrients  are best absorbed  in  an acidic medium, and always keep your healthcare professional in the loop before making any changes.

Let’s make sure we take utmost care of our bones to keep them healthy in the future!

(The writer is the Chief Nutrition Officer, Luke Coutinho Holistic Healing Systems. She is a clinical nutritionist with a focus on healthy lifestyle choices.)