• Dr. Margot Lattanzi, ND

Healthy Aging Series - Bone Health

As I age, I should take a calcium supplement, right? Well actually…

Lets start with a little science lesson:

The major components of your bones are organic materials such as collagen, and the minerals calcium and phosphorus. The amount of bone in your body is called your bone mass, and it is constantly being created and broken down. Our peak bone mass, or maximum strength and density, occurs by the age of 30. After this point, we tend to loose more bone mass then we create. While we can never achieve higher then our peak bone mass, we can continue to top up the bone mass we loose on a regular basis. Several hormones help regulate this process, including calcitonin, parathyroid hormone, vitamin D, estrogen and testosterone. Females tend to have an increase in bone loss after menopause, but by age 65 the loss is equal between men and women.

Now what is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs when the bone has low bone mass, and the microarchitecture of the bone itself starts to deteriorate. Because of this, there is an increased occurrence of fractures. Statistically, 1 in 3 female and 1 in 5 male will experience an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.

So I should supplement calcium?

Well, maybe not. In Canada, it is recommended that both adult males and females get 800- 1000 mg of calcium per day. This can be reached through diet, with or without dairy. Studies have found that supplementing more than 900mg of calcium per day may increase your risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. Another study found that women who supplemented with calcium had no change in total or hip fracture.

½ cup of spinach – ~155mg

2 cups broccoli - ~90mg

50mg goats cheese – up to 500mg

¾ cup Greek yogurt – ~200mg

¾ tofu - ~525mg

¾ beans - ~140mg

Bottom line- if you are worried about calcium levels, increase the amount of calcium in your diet. More amounts can be found here.

Other ways to help prevent bone loss:

1. Do high impact exercise:

High impact exercise can increase peak done density if done before 30, which can decrease risk of fractures later in life. These same exercises have been shown to increase bone mineral density in women after peak done density has been reached. Nice! These include activities such as: squash, tennis, soccer, ice hockey, volleyball, badminton, and weight lifting

2. Supplement with vitamin D

As mentioned earlier, vitamin D plays an important role in the amount of calcium in the bone. In certain parts of the world, including Ontario, we do not get enough sunlight year round to have optimal levels of vitamin D. When we do have good sunlight, we tend to cover up with sunscreen and clothing to prevent skin damage. Studies have found that both vitamin D and calcium may play equally as important roles in the development of osteoporosis.

3. Watch protein consumption (& increase fruits and veg!):

Diets that are rich in red meats and low in plant foods lead to a subtle dietary net acid load in the body, which can negatively impact the body’s calcium balance. Your body moves calcium out of the bone and into the blood to help buffer the acidity, eventually resulting in calcium loss via urine. A similar effect can happen with increased coffee and pop consumption. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are alkalinizing. So a diet high in these plants will help buffer the blood without the calcium loss of the bone. What can't vegetables do?!

This week - try and track how much calcium you are getting from food sources on a daily basis


-2015. Rouchotas. NUT201: Lifestyle factors in bone health. Strategies for intervention.

-2015. Shapoval. CLS308: Osteoporosis



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Disclaimer: Any information on this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice.

Always seek the advice of a qualified health care practitioner with any questions or health concerns you may have.


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