Maximising our bone health as we age is very important. But what’s the best way to do this? Start building strong bones with our easy tips.
As we age, some of our needs change. We may not be moving as much as we used to, so the amount of food we need decreases. However, this is an most important time to make sure your choices pack a nutritious punch because some requirements, like calcium, actually increase.
Once we reach 51 our requirements for calcium rise from 2.5 serves to 4 serves per day for women . This is because women rapidly start to lose bone mass as oestrogen levels decrease with menopause, leading to reduced bone strength and a greater risk of fractures. Women are also most at risk of developing osteoporosis for this reason.
If you ask someone what calcium is good for, the most common answer would be bones and teeth. But calcium also plays a role in our muscles relaxing and contracting, our heart beating, blood clotting and sending messages throughout our nervous system. Follow these tips to strengthen your bones and help out the rest of your body too.
Eat a wide variety of foods that are good sources of calcium
Milk and milk products like yoghurt and cheese pack the biggest calcium punch. If you can’t tolerate dairy products, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from, like soy-based products. When choosing dairy or dairy alternatives, look for more than 120mg per 100g of calcium so you know the product is a good choice. Your bones will thank you.
Eat your greens. You’ve probably said this so many times to your kids and grandchildren, but are you practising what you preach? Broccoli, bok choy, cabbage and spinach are all sources of calcium, but their absorption by the body isn’t as good as for dairy products.
Try some soy. Soy-based products like tofu, tempeh and soy milks can be good sources of calcium. Just remember to check the labels.
Sardines and salmon aren’t just good sources of omega-3 for your joints. Choose salmon with the bones (they are quite soft) for a calcium hit.
Keep an eye out for calcium-fortified products like cereals and breads. These can help to reach your daily calcium target. Women over 51 should aim for 1300mg of calcium a day .
Vitamin D helps to lock calcium into our bones. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to protect your skin from the sun’s rays – a few minutes on most days in summer or 2-3 hours a week in the cooler months are all you need.
Make weight-bearing exercise your friend
You don’t have to lift weights to help your bones. Simple weight-bearing activities like walking, yoga and stair climbs all count. And of course, exercise has all sorts of other benefits too.
Try our free dairy recipes
These simple and delicious recipes will have you on your way to reaching your calcium requirements. Just pair them with a dairy-based snack to reach your 1300mg target for the day.
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Sample Calcium Rich Meal Plan
Members Only: Click on the links below to access these recipes in the 12WBT Recipe Index