Keeping a healthy bone system is essential to good overall health and many people seem to fail to understand this. Bones have many functions in the body – they store calcium, shield the organs, anchor muscles, build the body structure, and more. It’s important to build a strong bone system as a child and teenager, as well as maintain it in good condition in your adulthood. Man’s bones change throughout time, because old bone is broken down and new bone is built to replace it. At a young age, one’s body makes new bones rather faster than it breaks down the old bones (yes, this process actually occurs) and thus bone mass increases more easily.
Usually, most people reach the summit of their bone mass density around the age of 30. After that, the remodeling process continues, but the bone mass that you gain decreases slightly in time. After the age of 40, many people begin to lose 0.5% of their bone mass early. Losing bone density may lead to your bones being more predisposed to weakness and brittleness, which is exactly what the so well-known enemy called osteoporosis does to our bone health. Studies have indicated many times over that the right diet is one of the 2 most crucial elements to maintaining higher bone density and hence, a healthy bone system. The other is physical activity.
When we talk about diet, let’s take a look at 5 of the most important nutrients required for your proper bone health.
Protein-craving sportsmen would be over the moon for this one. Whether it’s grass fed whey protein isolate, concentrate or casein in their shakers, they’ll know it’s going to strengthen their bones. The fact that protein is a major building block of our bodies and it’s responsible for making and maintaining tissue, it’s only natural that it is one of the important players when it comes to bones. As a matter of fact, 20-30% of the human bone mass is made up of protein. To boot, sufficient protein intake stimulates growth hormones and factors in the body, which obliquely reflects on the bone system.
There are some suspicions that high protein intakes are associated with calcium loss, but the thing is calcium loss is not a straight link to osteoporosis. Furthermore, it has been found that protein improves calcium absorption, so losses and gains balance each other, plus a high calcium and protein diet is correlated to good bone health. A massive prospective research studied the link between daily protein consumption and the risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women. Results hinted that many of the patients with hip fracture had a low protein intake (< 0.8 g/kg body weight/day). Another intervention study showed that post-fracture bone loss is alleviated by protein supplementation, because significant protein daily allowance reduces medical complications and hospitalization, and strengthens the muscles.
Although there’s no substantiated evidence that increased protein intake would be bad for bone mass, it’s probably reasonable to avoid a very, very high protein diet (more than 2g/kg or 2.5g/kg body weight/daily), but only if you have calcium deficiency.
If this one came as a surprise to some of you reading this article, that would be a surprise on its own. After all, 99% of a bone is made out of it. Most adults normally need between 600-1000mg daily, with teens probably needing the most to support their development. Whenever the body needs calcium, it calls upon the bones to supply it.
It’s not all roses though, because despite being a major player in bone health, calcium alone is not enough for it and its efficiency and absorption rate is actually dependent on other minerals and vitamins like vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Some of which are part of the most important nutrients for bone health in the first place. Fortunately, calcium is easily obtainable, because it’s abundant in dairy products that are largely consumed in the modern European and American diets. Given the importance of calcium intake for children, it’s probably no wonder why milk commercials include little kids.