Vitamin K, which is abundant in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, is necessary for the mineralization and strengthening of bones. One serving of Brussels sprouts contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, and there are tons of simple dishes that can help you to incorporate this beneficial vegetable into your diet.
If you’re looking to avoid dairy but still need the calcium, try cooking with collard greens. Calcium from leafy greens like collards is more easily absorbed by the body than calcium from dairy products.
Eating fortified cereal is a quick and efficient way to provide the body with particularly hard to find vitamins and minerals. For example, Total, a fortified cereal manufactured by General Mills, contains 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of 12 essential vitamins and minerals. Breakfast cereals also have the added benefit of being consumed with milk, which is not only naturally rich in calcium but is also fortified with vitamin D that’s necessary for the absorption of calcium.
Lentils and other vegetable proteins reinforce bone integrity and also help in calcium absorption. They are a better source of protein than animal products, which have been found to leach calcium from bones. The adverse effects of animal proteins has been cited as an explanation to why the United States has such a high rate of osteoporosis despite the fact that its population consume so much calcium. Try going meatless with these innovative lentil dishes.
Salmon is an easy way to get vitamin D; a 3-ounce piece contains more than 100 percent of your recommended daily value. Fatty canned fish like mackerel and sardines are also good sources of calcium.
Sweet potatoes contain two bone-strengthening nutrients: potassium and magnesium. Potassium helps balance the body’s acidity, which prevents calcium from leaching out of the bones.
There is a growing body of evidence that tofu and soy-based products can help with optimal bone health. Soy contains estrogen, a hormone that maintains bone growth and maturation, and which is critical for post-menopausal women. A Hong Kong osteoporosis study found that even among pre-menopausal and perimenopausal women, soy protein intake “was a positive predictor of total body bone mineral content.” Here are some unusual ways to incorporate tofu into your diet.
Calcium and protein are the two most influential nutrients for bone growth, and yogurt possesses both. A study that tracked more than 3,000 participants for between 10 and 20 years showed that consumption of yogurt (along with other low-fat dairy products) was linked to higher bone mineral density. However, the same study also found that a high intake of cream (over a long period of time) could adversely affect bone health.