Your diet can impact your risk for osteoporosis - getting plenty of calcium-rich foods is most important, but there are other nutritional aspects to consider as well. Here are some common questions about osteoporosis and diet:
Will drinking milk decrease my risk for osteoporosis?
Some people believe drinking milk will rob calcium from your bones because it causes an acidic state in the body, but this isn't true (learn more about acid-alkaline diets).
I don't like milk, how can I get enough calcium?
You can take calcium supplements, or consume foods that have added calcium such as calcium-fortified orange juice or breakfast cereal. Canned salmon with bones is a good natural non-dairy source of calcium, and most dark green vegetables contain some calcium. If you decide to take supplements, be sure to follow the dosage directions on the label or speak to your health provider about how much to take.
What other foods might help prevent osteoporosis?
Should I take magnesium or vitamin K supplements, too?
Probably not. You're better off getting these nutrients from foods. Studies don't indicate that taking magnesium or vitamin K in supplemental form will enhance your bone health (did you know there's more than one form of vitamin K?). Plus most foods that are rich in vitamin K and magnesium are also good for your health overall.
What about vitamin D - how does that help?
Vitamin D helps your intestinal tract absorb calcium from foods and dietary supplements. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. There aren't many foods that naturally contain vitamin D other than fish oil, but milk is fortified with vitamin D. It's also available as a dietary supplement, either alone or in combination with calcium.
Should I avoid sodium?
Maybe. Excess sodium increases the amount of calcium your body normally excretes in your urine. Following a DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension) that's low in sodium and high in potassium may reduce bone loss (here's a list of foods high in potassium). However it's not clear if the effect was due to eating less sodium or consuming more potassium, which protects bones from calcium loss.
Will eating more protein increase my risk for osteoporosis?
Probably not. Some people believe that eating large amounts of protein (especially animal protein) will cause your body to release calcium from your bones. But research studies indicate dietary protein also increases calcium absorption, which appears to negate any calcium losses. You probably don't need to increase your protein intake since most people get a sufficient amount from the diet, but eating more protein won't hurt your bones.
Is drinking soft drinks bad for my bones?
Probably not. Observational studies show a correlation between high intakes of soft drinks and an elevated risk for osteoporosis. Some people fear it may be due to caffeine or phosphoric acid found in some soft drinks such as carbonated cola, but it's more likely due to people drinking soft drinks instead of milk. It's important to note, however, that while they may not be bad for your bones, soft drinks don't have any health benefits, either.
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