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Nutrition Notes

Tips for healthy bones

Karen Lentner head shotNutritionist Karen LentnerDid you know that falls are one of the leading causes of injury among older adults? According to the Centers for Disease Control, one third of seniors fall each year, many leading to hip fractures or other broken bones. Good nutrition and exercise are critical for keeping your bones strong and preventing falls.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and more likely to break. You cannot feel or see your bones becoming thinner and may not know you have osteoporosis until you break a bone. The most common broken bones due to osteoporosis are the hip, spine and wrist. It affects men and women, can happen at any age, but is more likely to occur in women, especially after menopause due to a decrease in estrogen. Smoking and poor nutrition also increase the risk.

In order to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and broken bones, please consider the following bone-healthy choices:

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and protein as well as calcium and vitamin D. A healthy diet also includes lean meats, legumes, and “nutrient-rich” foods.
  • Talk to your doctor about bone health, a bone density test (to measure bone mass), and ask if you are at risk due to a disease, medications, or if you have a family history of osteoporosis or hip fracture.
  • Stay physically active, especially with weight-bearing exercise including walking, hiking, or dancing at least three times per week. Consider yoga or Tai Chi to improve your balance and strengthen your muscles, and take precautions to make your home safe.
  • Limit alcohol intake and try to avoid smoking to improve your overall health and bones.

March 2018 Nutrition Notes Tips Healthy Bones photo WEBDark, leafy green vegetables are a good source of calcium.Calcium is a mineral that builds bones and keeps them strong, while vitamin D helps the body absorb and process calcium. It is recommended that people age 51 and older consume 1200 mg of calcium and between 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D per day. Good sources of calcium are low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, and cheese; dark green leafy vegetables; sardines with bones or canned salmon; and calcium-fortified cereals, breakfast bars, and juice. Food is the best source of calcium; however, when dietary sources are not well tolerated, supplements are recommended.

Primary sources of vitamin D are food, supplements, and exposure to sunshine. Vitamin D is found in salmon, tuna, mackerel, and fortified cereal, milk, yogurt and orange juice. Due to limited exposure to the sun, many seniors find they need to add a vitamin D supplement (especially in winter) to meet their needs. Try to incorporate these foods into your diet every day.

It’s never too late to make positive changes to improve your nutrition and strengthen your bones. Let us help you maintain your mobility and independence. Consider joining us for a meal at one of our dining centers (find a complete list on LifePathMA.org) or call LifePath to set up Meals on Wheels at 413-773-5555.