Food & Recipes

The Best Foods to Eat to Prevent Bone Loss as You Age

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By now, you probably know that your bones require foods high in calcium to stay strong. But did you know that beyond milk, yogurt, and cheese, there are several other ways to get calcium — particularly in the form of other bone-building power foods? In fact, by eating these foods high in calcium or taking a calcium supplement, you can cut your risk of thinning bones by 50 percent (or more). 

What foods contain calcium?

Brown rice slows bone loss. This healthy grain is rich in IP6, a nutrient that cuts your risk of bone loss at least 25 percent. “IP6 reduces your production of osteoclasts, troublesome cells that actually break down bone tissue,” says Abulkalam Shamsuddin, Ph.D., professor of pathology at the University of Maryland. Other good sources of IP6 include corn and legumes.

Eggs prevent brittleness. Egg yolks are a top source of vitamin K2, a nutrient that can slash your risk of bone breaks in half, suggests research in the journal Osteoporosis International. K2 helps you build osteocalcin, the strong, shock-absorbent framework that calcium latches onto inside bones, explains study co-author Leon Schurgers, PhD. Two eggs daily could do the trick. (Chicken legs and organ meats are also good sources of K2).

Nightcaps nix estrogen shortfalls. Estrogen helps keep bones healthy and strong, which explains why many of us lose 20 percent of our bone strength after menopause. To the rescue: a daily serving of alcohol (that’s 5 ounces wine, a 12-ounce beer, or 1 1/2 ounces spirits). Oregon State research reveals alcohol puts the brakes on menopausal bone thinning in as little as 24 hours by mimicking the way estrogen latches onto bone, stopping calcium from leaching out into your bloodstream. Experts caution, however, that consuming too much alcohol (more than two drinks daily) can inhibit calcium absorption and actually thin your bones!

Carrots protect bone strength. Getting a steady trickle of the mineral strontium can prevent bone thinning more effectively than calcium — and carrots and other root vegetables the very best source. (Untreated well water is the only other!) Strontium pinch-hits for calcium, filling in porous, brittle patches so your bones stay strong, even if your calcium intake is sometimes iffy, University of Chicago researchers explain.

Olive oil reverses bone loss. Adding two to three tablespoons of nutrient-rich extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to your daily diet can turn back the clock, helping your bones become significantly stronger and more break-resistant in as little as six months — and even women in their 70s benefit, Spanish research reveals. EVOO switches on the enzymes that prod production of healthy new bone tissue.

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