womenTALK: Blog

Friday, Nov 09th 2012

Essential Vitamins for Strong Bones

If you think weakness and brittle bones are an inevitable result of aging, think again. As women, we play many important roles in life, from caregivers to career women, and weak bones can cramp our style. However, it's possible to feel strong and agile at any age, especially if you take the right measures for maintaining healthy bones.

One way to build strong bones is to get ample calcium in your daily diet. This nutrient builds strong teeth and bones and helps to maintain regular circulation, muscle action and nerve function. Some foods high in calcium include yogurt, cheese, canned salmon or sardines with bones, collard greens, tofu, figs, broccoli, spinach and almonds.

However, the reality is that 81 percent of adult women do not get enough calcium from diet alone, leaving their bodies to steal it from their bones. In these cases, a calcium supplement can be helpful.

But don't forget about calcium's necessary sidekick, vitamin D. As we age, our body's ability to absorb calcium diminishes, which is why we must have adequate levels of vitamin D, the so-called "sunshine" vitamin, to help our bodies to absorb calcium and maintain enough calcium and phosphate in our blood so it doesn't get pulled out of bone. It also enables bone growth and the breaking down and building up of bone.

Leading experts believe up to 77 percent of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D, thus increasing their risk for falls and fractures. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, but it's nearly impossible to get enough in the fall and winter or if you're using sunscreen. That's why supplements are your best bet. Start with a supplement that has both calcium and vitamin D.

And don't forget that exercise is another powerful tool in maintaining strength and agility as you age. Strength or resistance training—whether performed with hand-held weights, exercise bands, or more sophisticated machines—helps fight that muscle loss. Start with these three simple exercises.

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