Women staying strong and healthy as they age
There is much evidence on how you need to keep your bones healthy as you age. And Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden in their book Yoga for healthy bones speak on the importance of diet and healthy bones.
As you age, especially after menopause, women begin to lose calcium from their bodies because of lifestyle choices; not participating in weight bearing exercising such as walking, and because of what they eat.
Research continues to mount on the fact that women who are vegetarian lose far less bone mass in their later years than women who eat animal-derived protein.
There are many co-factors of calcium. In order for your body to process calcium you also need vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, and iron. These are the critical minerals needed for moving calcium into the bone effectively.
The news on a plant based diet
Eat less animal-derived protein if you want to strengthen your bones because a diet high in animal protein can cause your body to excrete too much calcium through urine. This means that the body actually gets rid of the calcium before you can benefit from it.
Eat Alkaline foods
If you are not eating animal protein, where are you going to get adequate amounts of protein?
You can get adequate amounts of plant based protein through grains (rice, quinoa, amaranth)beans, tofu and legumes such as lentils and split peas.
What to eat for healthy bones
Potassium: Increase your potassium with bananas, cantaloupe, fresh orange juice, almonds, Swiss chard an artichokes
If you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables they are full of alkaloids: all fruits and veggies have calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.
However if you drink lots of soda which is high in phosphorus acid you may defeat your alkaline diet. Also, if you consume processed foods such as cheese, fried foods and snack foods with artificial sweeteners, your body will not benefit from your change to an alkaline diet.
Other acid- neutralizing foods that you need include: lentils, split peas, seeds such as pumpkin seeds, yams, limes, nectarines, raspberries, pineapples, dark leafy vegetables and the spice cinnamon.
The news on calcium is still mixed on how much you may need to supplement, especially if you have a healthy diet because you can have too much calcium supplementation and that can be as dangerous as too little.
And there are many other food based sources of calcium:
Dark leafy vegetables, carrots, almonds, tofu, miso seaweed, and salmon. And good calcium enriched herbs include sage, nettles, horsetail, oatstraw, borage, raspberry leaf, and alfalfa.
Different types of calcium supplements:
Calcium Carbonate- absorbs better with food
Calcium Citrate- works better on an empty stomach
Studies have shown that the best absorbed calcium is calcium citrate malate, most easily absorbed.
Other robbers of calcium
Salt can leach calcium from your bones
Phosphates in carbonated soft drinks
Get some sun
We all know there are dangers of getting too much sun, but moderation is the key.
Our bodies need sunlight to produce the Vitamin D that we need to stay healthy and well.
A 30 minute walk 5 days a week should give you the Vitamin D that you need.
Besides taking enough calcium, magnesium and vitamin D, you may want to add Vitamin K which may help your bones to stay strong.
(if you are on a blood thinner you may not want to increase Vit k) ask your MD what your risks are.
Women need both calcium and magnesium for not only healthy bones, but a healthy heart. Magnesium plays an important role in optimal calcium absorption.
Along with the weight bearing exercises of walking, you should also take up yoga. Yoga has been found to help with not only strengthening your bones, it helps with your posture, general well being and stress reduction. And stress can also be a cause of bone loss.
Supplementation of calcium
If you are considering adding a supplement such as calcium, check with your MD for guidance on what type and dosage that you need. He may tell you that you just need to change your diet and do weight bearing exercises.
Sparrowe, L, and Walden, P ( 2004) Yoga for healthy bones. A women’s guide. Shambhala Publications. Boston, MA. www.shambhala.com