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Eat for Strong Bones

Bones weaken and fractures soar with age. Today, about 10 million Americans have osteoporosis (brittle bones), and another 34 million have osteopenia (low bone mass).

Here’s the latest research on how to keep bones strong:

Don’t count on calcium alone. New research finds vitamin D as important. In fact, a daily 700 IU to 800 IU of D cuts hip fracture risk 26%, say Harvard investigators. Most women should take 500mg to 800mg calcium and 600 IU vitamin D each day.

Beware animal fat. Eating high amounts of saturated fat in meat and dairy can weaken bones, finds a new Penn State study. In men under age 50, those who ate the most saturated fat had 4% less bone mineral density than men who ate the least.

Eat fruits, vegetables. One reason: They’re packed with potassium, which slows excretion of calcium. In animals, dried plums (prunes) even reversed bone loss.

Cut salt. In women with a typical American diet, cutting back to 2,000mg sodium a day reduced their calcium and bone loss, says a University of Tennessee study.

Get B vitamins. Low B12 levels in the blood signal lower bone mineral density in men’s hips and women’s spines, says recent Tufts University research. In Japanese research, high daily doses of B12 (1,500mcg) and folic acid (5mg) cut hip fractures 80% in stroke patients.

Limit colas and candy. Higher consumption of these is linked to greater bone loss.

Sources for this article

Vitamin D and bones Steingrimsdottir L, JAMA. 2005 294:2336-41.
Bischoff-Ferrari HA, JAMA. 2005 May 11;293(18):2257-64.
Saturated fat and bones
Corwin RL, J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1):159-65.
Fruits and vegetables and bones
Macdonald HM, Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr;81(4):923-33.
Deyhim F, Menopause. 2005 Nov-Dec; 12(6): 755-62.
Salt and bones
Carbone LD, J Bone Miner Metab. 2005;23(6):506-13.
B vitamins and bones
Tucker KL, J Bone Miner Res. 2005 Jan;20(1):152-8.
Sato Y, JAMA. 2005 Mar 2;293(9):1082-8.
Colas, candy and bones
Tucker, KL. Curr Pharm Des. 2003;9(32):2687-704.

This EatSmart column is reprinted from USAWEEKEND Magazine and is copyrighted by Jean Carper. It cannot be reprinted without permission from Jean Carper.

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