Doing the best for your bones

By Cara Cunningham, community dietitian

Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D is definitely the prescription for healthy bones. The difficulty is getting foods to fit into your diet that ‘fill’ this need, especially when many of the fad diets recommend cutting out dairy foods to promote weight loss. So what can you do to practically make sure that you are having enough calcium and vitamin D, without compromising on your diet, to keep you at, or steer you towards a healthy weight?

Calcium:

Switch to low fat or skimmed dairy products – they will have just as much calcium as the higher fat versions. They may be a bit hard to get used to at the start, but persevere - your taste buds will soon prefer the lower fat versions.

Include at least three portions of dairy foods per day – handy ways to do this are to have milk on breakfast cereal, yogurt with lunch, and some cheese sprinkled over your potatoes in the evening. Don’t forget that milk added to your tea and coffee can be counted as well.

Vitamin D:

Although vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin you can really only rely on the summer sun to provide enough intensity to make enough vitamin D, and unfortunately it is not a vitamin we can ‘stock up’ on. It is best to get into the habit of getting some D from our diet.

Dietary sources of vitamin D include margarine, fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products, oily fish and egg yolks. To get an adequate amount you should eat at least some of these foods every day.

Oily fish is rich in vitamin D, so not only is it good for your heart but will also help your bones. It is recommended to eat some oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, etc, at least once a week. And there is no need to take out the fishing rod (unless you want to ) — tinned oily fish will do. The only exception is that tuna contains calcium but very little vitamin D because of the way it is processed.

If you really cannot stand oily fish take fish oil supplements – look on the label for the one supplying at least 500mg EPA/DHA.

Safeguarding your bones is vital – remember that exercise is also key. The best exercises to help towards strong bones are weight bearing ones such as aerobics, jogging, walking, or bouncing on the trampoline. Strong bones will definitely support you for a healthier life.

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