You might already know that your bones gain most of their mass by age 18 and that their density begins a steep decline with menopause. But there are many ways to maintain -- and even grow -- bone density during those decades in between. Besides the obvious (get enough calcium!), here's a rundown of the other vitamins, minerals, and even proteins that can help ensure a strong skeleton.
Vitamin D. If you don't get enough vitamin D, then half the calcium you work so hard to get in your system just ends up flushed out. Vitamin D -- which you can get from food (fish and fortified dairy), sunlight, or supplements -- helps your body absorb calcium from food. It's also linked to other health benefits that include cancer prevention. Protein creates the scaffolding upon which healthy bones are built. Low-fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt are great multitasking sources -- you get calcium, protein, and often vitamin D all in one place. Other protein sources: lean meats, fish, eggs, poultry, tofu, beans, and nuts.
Magnesium. This mineral combines with calcium to form bone mass on top of protein's foundation. Unfortunately, most American women's diets don't contain enough of the foods in which magnesium is abundant -- avocados, wheat germ, whole grains, soy, and leafy greens. That's why a supplement can be beneficial.
Potassium. This electrolyte keeps your body's acid levels in just the right range for optimum bone health. Since your body uses it quickly, it's a good idea to eat potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, throughout the day.
Vitamin K.Vitamin K has many jobs within the body, the most obvious being helping blood clot when you get a cut. But it also plays an important role in bone health by leading calcium into the bones and preventing it from leaching back out. For all the importance of vitamin K, your body actually only needs small amounts. To get what you need, eat a diet rich in leafy greens; a multivitamin can also help.
Remember: A strong skeleton is essential for everything from carrying in groceries to biking through wine country to romping with your grandkids (today or someday).
For more healthy living news and features, visit PureMatters.com -- and don't forget to stop by the Pure Matters Shop for all your vitamin and supplement needs.
Source: Pure Matters http://www.purematters.com/healthy-body/bone-health/go-beyond-calcium-for-healthy-bones