What can I do to help prevent Osteoporosis?
1. If you are a woman, you should be consuming between 1,000mg to 1,200mg of calcium per day from combined food and supplement sources, 400mg of magnesium, and 1,000 IU of Vitamin D (or from the sun a few times a week wearing no sunblock except on face if desired. Read more here for Dr. Holick's Vit D recommendations).
2. Bone formula supplements should include a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium unless you have symptoms of magnesium deficiency (insomnia, high blood pressure, tight muscle, charlie horse, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, depression, poor energy), and then you should have a more equal ratio. Try to also increase sources of dietary magnesium with food choices such as: artichokes, figs, barley, buckwheat flour, oat bran, brown rice, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, and a variety of beans.
3. Increase weight bearing exercises, examples include: weight lifting, toning, Pilates, yoga, tai chi, dancing, and participation in sports.
4. AVOID SODA. (including diet sodas.) Soda intake is significantly associated with bone loss and demineralization, especially in women. This is believed to be a result of the phosphoric acid content in these drinks.
5. Avoid excess consumption of refined and sugary foods.
6. Avoid ingestion of excess animal proteins in diet. Balance your protein requirements to include adequate vegetable sources of protein.
7. Limit sodium consumption.
8. Oral birth control pills: When young women begin taking estrogen medications, especially when they are still in their teen years, it limits their time in establishing peak bone mass by "tricking" the body into an earlier skeletal maturity. It is therefore particularly important for this demographic to properly supplement calcium into their diets.
Concerns About Dairy Products
While standard American nutritional guidelines encourage eating at least 3 servings per day of dairy, this advice has come under fire by many experts in nutrition. There is no clear evidence that dairy products are necessary for a healthy diet, especially if an individual eats a carefully balanced diet high in green vegetable sources and nuts/seeds which include calcium along with adequate protein consumption.
Ideal Calcium Source? Consuming dairy may not be an ideal way to get your calcium because of its net acid effect. Since dairy is acidifying in nature, and since calcium's primary role is to alkalinize, much of the ingested calcium from dairy is used to neutralize the acidifying effect of the dairy on the body. Therefore, the net calcium amount is often negative and bone calcium loss may occur. That's why greens and nuts actually provide more bioavailable calcium than dairy.
Is Dairy in the US Healthy? The quality of dairy products in the US had drastically changed over the years and (unless Organic non-rBGH) is filled with hormones that have adverse health effects. You can read more about the dangers of milk from the Cancer Prevention Coalition here.
Many adults lack the enzyme "lactase" (50-60% in some studies) and are unable to tolerate consumption of milk and uncultured milk products. Still others may have a sensitivity to one of the proteins contained in milk products, which has been linked to a variety of issues ranging from intestinal irritations, allergies, and neurological problems. There have been many people who have noticed an improvement in their chronic complaints once they discontinued their intake of dairy products.
Benefits of Dairy
For those who can tolerate milk products without problems, especially cultured ones such as yogurt, Kefir and cheese, there may be many benefits. These are natural sources of beneficial probiotic bacteria, high quality proteins, and fat soluble vitamins like A and D. To make the healthiest choices for dairy products, choose organic options made from whole milk not non-fat or low-fat since they do not contain the vitamins or anti-cancer CLA found in dairy fat. Choose plain yogurt over flavored or fruit varieties, as these may have a high sugar content. This may be especially true of "low fat" flavored choices. (You can always make your own fruit yogurt by adding fresh berries of your choice to plain yogurt.) Regardless, it may be wise to limit your servings of dairy, and still choose high calcium vegetable sources to balance your dietary needs.