Having just come back from Mallorca and the beautiful city of Palma, I was struck by the immediate benefit that being in the warm sun has on us northern Europeans. The sunshine eases our moods and we become fun, frivolous and feel alive. Everything seems possible and little joys can make a huge difference. Like finding the last sunny table in your favourite cafe and knowing you’ve got a little extra time to spare… just heaven.
And the fact is – we need the sun. Research tells us that we have been having too little vitamin D for years. We have not taken enough supplements in the winter months and in the summer we slap on sunblock, ensuring no rays hit our delicate skin for the production of vitamin D to take place.
In actual fact, exposing yourself to the sun for 20 minutes daily – without sunscreen – can be an effective way of getting your required dose of vitamin D in the summer months. Obviously some common sense need to prevail – we know the effects of prolonged baking on a sun-lounger in the hot summer sun and it isn’t a good look! Apart from possible melanoma (skin cancer) you will most likely age prematurely and look like an old handbag before you know it. Moderation is the key here.
When it comes to women and bone health, vitamin D is an important factor to reckon with. As we age, and this is particularly pertinent for us women, we are more likely to get osteoporosis than men. Family history is relevant, as is lifestyle (smoking, drinking, caffeine and processed foods can all be contributing factors) enough vitamin D and a whole food diet.
Post-menopausal women are extra prone to osteoporosis (or the pre-stage, osteopenia) as our levels of oestrogen are reduced after menopause (oestrogen being in charge of protecting our bone density). Few of us have lived a life of perfection and therefore we may find ourselves having to super charge/change our lifestyles in our 50’s. After a bone scan that showed the beginning stages of osteoporosis I am currently researching various osteoporosis diets and natural bone density cures that can make a difference. and I find that the American nutritionist Dr. Axe has a simple yet powerful list of what to do that is easy to follow. Here are his recommendations:
The Osteoporosis Diet Foods (by Dr. Axe)
Raw cultured dairy – Kefir, amasai, yogurt, and raw cheese contain calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, phosphorus, and vitamin D rich foods all of which are vital for building strong bones.
Wild-caught fish – Osteoporosis may be related to chronic inflammation. Omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation.
Sea vegetables – These vegetables are high in critical minerals for bone formation and calcium. Try to include nori, wakame, agar, or kombu in your diet.
Green leafy vegetables – Bones need Vitamin K and calcium to stay strong and green leafy vegetables are full of these.
Alkaline foods – Osteoporosis may be related to an acidic body environment, so eat plenty of fruits and vegetables in order to promote a more alkaline environment.
Foods to avoid
Alcohol – Increases inflammation that can lead to more calcium being leached from bones.
Sweetened beverages – The high phosphorus content found in soda can remove calcium from bones. Sugar also increases inflammation.
Sugar – Increases inflammation which can make osteoporosis worse.
Processed, red meat – A high intake of sodium and red meat may result in bone loss.
Caffeine – Excessive caffeine intake can result in bone loss.
Top 5 Osteoporosis Natural Supplements
#1 Magnesium (500 mg daily)
Magnesium is required for proper calcium metabolism.
#2 Calcium (1000 mg daily)
Choose calcium citrate which is best absorbed.
#3 Vitamin D3 (5,000IU daily)
Vitamin D helps improve calcium absorption.
#4 Vitamin K2 (100 mcg daily)
Needed to form a protein critical for bone formation. Take a high quality vitamin K2 supplant or eat more vitamin k rich foods.
#5 Strontium (680 mg daily)
Can help improve bone density.
Osteoporosis Natural Treatments
Two other vital things to consider to improve bone density are weight training exercise and getting plenty of sunshine.
Weight train 3x a week for 30 minutes and get 20 minutes of sunshine on our skin daily.
Also, standing on vibration platforms 5-20 minutes daily may improve bone density.
So head out in the fresh air, eat whole foods and remember to take your supplements. If you are over 50 and have not had a bone scan then ask your GP for an appointment. It is always better to be well-informed.