A combination of nutrients can aid bone health, including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium.
According to the Health Promotion Board, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for calcium for adults (19-50 years old) is 800 mg and for older adults (51 years and above) is 1,000 mg. Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and lean proteins would provide our bodies with most nutrients needed to keep our bones healthy.
Calcium is essential for developing and maintaining healthy bones throughout life. Calcium works together with other minerals to form hard crystals which give bones strength and structure.
Bones act like a bank for calcium. If there is not enough calcium in your diet the body will take what is needed from your bones for use in other parts of the body. If this happens your bone density (bone strength) will gradually decline and you may be at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Consuming milk can provide calcium and other nutrients like protein, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, and B vitamins. Rich sources of dietary calcium are dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), fish with edible bones (e.g. sardines, ikan bilis), and calcium-fortified foods such as enriched bread and high calcium soybean milk.
In the case of osteoporosis, calcium alone is not enough and osteoporosis medication is usually directed to be taken by a doctor. It is common for calcium supplementation to be prescribed with osteoporosis medication. Adequate calcium intake throughout adult life supports bone health but may not prevent osteoporosis as other factors can adversely affect your bone health. To maintain the density of your bones, limit the consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and avoid smoking.
Vitamin D aids calcium absorption from your diet. You can get vitamin D from foods such as egg yolks, liver, and oily fish (e.g. salmon, sardines and mackerel) or exposure to the sun. The latter is recommended for around 5 to 30 minutes (between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) twice a week with exposure for the arms and legs.
Vitamin K is found plentiful in green leafy vegetables and magnesium can be found in lentils, chickpeas, whole grains, and nuts.
For bone joint health, consuming a variety of foods with possible anti-inflammatory properties could help. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts.
Reviewed by Ms. Rachel Ng, Senior Dietitian, Farrer Park Hospital