Dem Bones


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Make no bones about it. Healthy adults –especially women- loose about 1% of their bone mineral density every year. This loss leads to osteopenia (Osteopenia refers to bone mineral density (BMD) that is lower than normal peak BMD but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis) and eventually osteoporosis (Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” It is a disease that happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both.)

In 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, stated that by the year 2020, 50% of Americans past the age of 50 would be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass unless we take steps to prevent bone loss (

There are three main steps to improving bone health:

  1. Improve your diet
  2. Do bone building exercises
  3. Increase your knowledge about health, food, diet, and exercise

Let’s talk about diet. Do you know that you need to add more than just calcium to your diet to increase your bone health? Although calcium is vital to bone health, other vitamins and minerals that greatly contribute to healthy bones are vitamin D, vitamin K, strontium, magnesium, boron, silica, and vanadium.  Natural food sources are the best way to obtain what you need.

Calcium rich foods include:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Sardines
  • Deep cold water salmon
  • Seaweed (wakame and kombu)
  • Sesame seeds and sesame butter (tahini)
  • Almonds, other nuts, and seeds

Vitamin D Sources:

Vitamin K2 Sources:

  • Natto (fermented soy beans), pictured on the left, is a great source for vegetariansNatto_on_rice
  • Cheese and butter (from grass fed cattle is best)



  • Green vegetables
  • Halibut
  • Almonds and cashews
  • Whole, unrefined grains


  • Raisins
  • Almonds
  • Dates
  • Prunes


  • Wheat hulls, oats, rice
  • Alfalfa


  • Mushrooms
  • Parsley and dill
  • Whole grains

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A is a family of fat-soluble compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division, and cell differentiation. Vitamin A is important for healthy bones. However, too much vitamin A has been linked to bone loss and an increase in the risk of hip fracture. Scientists believe that excessive amounts of vitamin A trigger an increase in osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. They also believe that too much vitamin A may interfere with vitamin D, which plays an important role in preserving bone.

Retinol is the form of vitamin A that causes concern. In addition to getting retinol from their diets, some people may be using synthetic retinoid preparations that are chemically similar to vitamin A to treat acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. These preparations have been shown to have the same negative impact on bone health as dietary retinol. Use of these medications in children and teens also has been linked to delays in growth. Beta-carotene, on the other hand, is largely considered to be safe and has not been linked to adverse effects in bone or elsewhere in the body.

If you think you do not get enough nutrients for healthy bones from your diet, look for a good supplement to provide you with what you need. Remember, if you take supplements, they are not intended to replace natural sources from a healthy diet!

The Surgeon General also recommended:

  1.  Be physically active every day. Many types of physical activity contribute to bone health and also improve balance, coordination, and muscle strength.At least 30 minutes a day of weight bearing and strengthening physical activity is recommended for adults, and 60 minutes a day is recommended for children.
  2. Maintain a healthy body weight throughout your life. Being underweight increases the risk of bone loss and fractures.
  3. Protect yourself from falls. Fractures are often caused by falls. Protect your bones, especially if you are over the age of 60. Have your vision checked. Make your home safer by removing items you may trip over, being sure that you have enough lighting, wearing shoes with good support, and installing handrails.
  4. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake. Smoking and heavy alcohol use reduce your bone mass and increase your risk for broken bones.
  5. Discuss increased risks with your doctor. You may be at greater risk for fractures if you are older than 65, have broken a bone after age 50, have relatives with a broken bone, have certain medical conditions (for example, hyperthyroidism or arthritis) and take certain prescription medications (for example, thyroid medicine or oral glucocorticoids). Check with your health care professional about your risks and find out if you need a bone density test. Once you have the test, your health care professional may prescribe medications that treat bone disease and may recommend calcium or vitamin D supplements.

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Sheryl Malin

I am a registered nurse, licensed acupuncturist, and firm believer that holistic medicine generates holistic health. I also believe that diet is the major factor that influences our health. Home grown in New Orleans, granddaughter of a butcher and grocer, I have always been immersed in good food. However, throughout the years I have seen the quality of food plummet while poor health issues in the United States continue to rise.
I realize that most people are too busy to keep up to date about the ever changing issues that affect the quality of our food, our diet, and our health. As an educator, I was compelled to write this blog. My hope is to better inform you about the food you consume and how to make better choices in order to live a healthier life. It’s all about you and the choices you make.
Bon Appétit

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