As October 31 approaches, there’s an abundance of Halloween images?including, of course, creepy skeletons. But when I see these skeletons, skulls, and other bony appendages, I think of our own bones, something we often take for granted. How healthy is your skeleton? That’s a question that should be asked not just at Halloween, but throughout the year.
The Bony Secret
Our bones aren’t just static structures; they’re actually exciting ?factories,? living cells that destroy and rebuild bone, absorb and store nutrients, and?in general?they are bursting with life! Because of their cellular activity, bones, like other organs in our bodies, need adequate nutrition. Let’s talk about these nutrients below.
When we think of bone health, calcium is often the first thing that comes to mind. But although calcium is important, it is not solely responsible for the health of our bones, in the same way that one single vitamin or mineral isn’t the key to our body’s overall well-being. The main structure of our bone is made from a calcium crystalline complex; adequate calcium levels (aim for 1,000 mg per day minimum) help keep this structure strong, reducing the rate at which bone is lost. Food sources of calcium include milk, collards, spinach, kale, soy, and almonds.
Numerous studies have shown that if you don’t have enough magnesium, your bones will suffer. After all, approximately two thirds of your body’s magnesium content is stored in the bones. Insufficient magnesium has been tied to brittle bones and, consequently, increased risk of osteoporosis (which is also associated with low serum magnesium levels). Some food sources of magnesium include pumpkin and squash seeds, spinach, black beans, and oysters.
Although we don’t hear much about this vitamin, It’s a key one where bone health is concerned. The menatetrenone variant of vitamin K, often referred to as vitamin K4, helps reduce bone fractures and maintain overall bone strength. Foods high in vitamin K include leafy green vegetables, and kale, spinach, and turnip greens contain the highest vitamin K levels among all the leafy greens.
Vitamin D3 has so many functions in the body, but one is maintaining overall bone health. Although our bodies can manufacture this vitamin from direct sunlight, most of us are still deficient (especially in the fall and winter months). Plant sources of vitamin D are poorly absorbed; you can either supplement with D3 or consume cod liver oil (which contains naturally occurring vitamin D).
Boron & Others
Our bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. However, during the breakdown process we can lose calcium and magnesium through our urine, meaning that our bones have fewer minerals with which to rebuild. Boron is the answer; adequate boron content in our diet (or via supplementation) equals reduced urinary mineral loss, ensuring that our bones have enough substrate to stay strong and healthy.
There are many other vitamins and minerals that are important in bone health; two of these are zinc and copper. These play a role in maintaining bone strength, reducing the risk of fracture and osteoporosis.
This October, when you see a skeleton leering around the corner, take note of your own skeleton and what You’re doing to keep it strong and healthy. Disregarding our body’s internal structure–now That’s something truly scary.
Katie D’Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.