Quinn on Nutrition: Freedom from fractures

February 9, 2015

A friend and I were talking about our families and how our parents fared in their later years.

"My mom was doing great," my friend said. "Then she fell and broke her hipÖ."

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis in their lifetime.

Family history ó the health of our parents or siblings ó is one risk factor we canít change. But some things we can do to help free us from fractures: Exercise regularly, eat bone-nurturing nutrients and donít smoke.

What nutrients strengthen bones? Calcium is number one. In fact, 99 percent of all the calcium in our body resides in bone. Calcium and its buddy phosphorous combine to give strength and hardness to our frame. But these nutrients donít just appear out of the sky; we have to put them into our bodies. Food sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese and calcium-fortified foods. Calcium is also found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli and even oranges. Phosphorous is found in meat, fish, dairy foods and beans.

Like a strong tree that bends in the wind, bones need to be flexible as well as strong. A protein called collagen provides much of the flexibility to our skeletons. Foods that provide the building blocks for collagen include meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, nuts, beans ó pretty much anything but fruit.

Of course, the darling nutrient that calcium relies on for absorption into the body is vitamin D. When vitamin D is low, bones suffer. Another interesting note: Adequate vitamin D in the body may actually help prevent the falls that often cause fractures.

What else can we do to stay strong and upright in our later years? A recent study found that women who were regular tea drinkers had higher bone mineral densities in general than women who did not drink tea. Why? It may be partly due to substances in tea called flavonoids that may slow the natural deterioration of bones as we age.

That doesnít mean we need to gulp gallons of sweet tea, however. According to the NOF, bone-friendly flavonoids reside in all types of fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods also contain substances that reduce inflammation and guard our bones from premature breakdown.

Our bones are like bank accounts. Life is easier when deposits are greater than withdrawals.




McClatchy-Tribune Information Services