Osteoporosis and low bone mass are a major public health threat for almost 44 million U.S. women and men aged 50 and older. Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. The 44 million Americans with either osteoporosis or low bone mass represent 55 percent of the people aged 50 and older in the United States. By the year 2010, it is estimated that over 52 million women and men in this same age category will be affected. If current trends continue, the figure will climb to over 61 million by 2020. So with that being said we must pay attention to prevent this disease from affecting us. A well-nourished, well-muscled body is much less at risk for fractures due to falls - even if the bones are weak. Protein is important because the matrix of bone, into which the calcium is inserted, is made of protein. Many women, particularly the elderly, may not be getting adequate protein. The two most important nutrients for bone development are calcium and vitamin D. Unfortunately, Americans consume a low-calcium diet, estimated at no more than 400-600 mg/day for most adults. The recommended daily intake for mature, menstruating women is 1,000 mg/day. For women who are postmenopausal the needs increase to 1,500 mg/day, the equivalent of three to five servings of dairy products per day. Calcium is also present in green leafy vegetables, canned fish with bones (salmon or sardines), tofu, and orange juice with added calcium. The concentration of calcium from non dairy sources is on the low side. A serving of dairy is about 300mg of calcium whereas a half cup serving of greens is 100mg of calcium and tofu is only 40mg per 1 cup! Vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium from the diet. Unfortunately, vitamin D is becoming a common deficiency in all ages. A glass of milk fortified with vitamin D provides 100 IU. Some dairy foods - such as Greek yogurts - are not even fortified with vitamin D. So other than sun exposure (without sunscreen) three times a week for 15 minutes it is best to supplement with 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D a day to meet these needs and prevent deficiencies. Remember to add foods that are calcium fortified and talk with your primary care physician first if you are considering a calcium or vitamin D supplement.
Author: John McGran