Many of my over 50 patients ask me how they can keep their bones strong. Like them, you probably know that calcium is important, and you may have heard, or read, that Vitamin D and vitamin K are also important to bone health. Like many people, you may not know that there are several other key bone nutrients that most people are deficient in. I’d like to tell you what they are and how you can get the proper amounts of them to ensure that your bones remain strong and healthy.
The 10 Crucial Bone Minerals – Are You Deficient?
When asked if you know what minerals make bones strong, you’d likely answer calcium, which is correct. Older Americans, however, only get about 500-850 mg of the 1000-1200 mg of calcium, recommended by bone health researchers.
There are really about 10 key minerals that figure in good bone health. Yet, these other not so well-known bone health minerals are ones that you’re likely to be deficient in. Not getting enough of these “hidden” bone health minerals can mean the difference between having strong bones that resist fracture or winding up with a disabling hip or forearm fracture, especially if you’re a postmenopausal woman, or a man over 70.
Here are the 9 other bone health minerals and how you can get more of them in your diet. You’ll note that many food sources of one mineral are also good sources of another mineral.
1. Boron. Considered a trace mineral, yet most people only get about 0.25 mg a day to its 3-5 mg recommended bone health amount. A good multivitamin supplement should contain this daily amount, or you can get more in your diet by eating foods like almonds, apricots, avocado, hazel nuts, raisins.
2. Chromium. Deficiencies in this mineral not only decrease bone strength but also puts you at higher risk for developing diabetes and glaucoma. The recommended daily amount for good bone health is 200-1000 mg a day. It can be found in good multivitamin or individual supplements and in these foods: onions, brewer’s yeast, potatoes, oysters, whole grains, bran.
3. Copper. The daily recommended optimal bone health level for copper is 1-3 mg, yet 75% of American diets get far below the RDA amount. Present in most multivitamins, also contained in liver pate, oysters, cocoa powder, nuts, sun dried tomatoes, roasted pumpkin and squash seeds.
4. Magnesium. The optimal bone health intake of magnesium is between 400 and 600 mg daily, yet 56% of Americans have below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), especially females. Magnesium also helps decrease tension.
5. Manganese. Americans do a little better with manganese intake, at least getting the lower end of the requirement (2.0-2.5 for men/women respectively), yet bone health requirement ranges from 2-10 mg a day. Foods like nuts, bran, cocoa powder, contain good amounts of manganese.
6. Silica. Silica, or silicon, is essential to good bone health. It helps bone knit together to create strength. The recommended optimal level is 5-20 mg but most Americans are also deficient in this mineral as well as it’s almost always lost in food processing. Many multivitamins include silica, but these food sources exist as well: Oats, the herb horsetail.
7. Potassium: The recommended optimal level of potassium for good health is between 4000 and 6000 mg a day. Yet, American men and women only get about half this requirement at 2,000 to 2500. Good food sources include: Bananas, potatoes, white beans, leafy greens, dried apricots, salmon, yogurt, and avocados.
8. Strontium. Right up there with calcium in bone health importance, strontium requirements are 3-30 mg a day, yet most people only get about 1-10 mg a day.
9. Zinc. It is essential to bones, blood, hair, and many functions throughout your body. Most people, especially those over 50, are deficient in zinc with the average intake being only 46% to 63% of its RDA.
Keep in mind that when you read RDA levels on supplements, that these levels are just “squeaking-by” adequate amounts for most people and not “optimal health” levels. If you follow the recommended, optimal bone health levels listed above, your bones will be much stronger and healthier. As such, they’ll be able to carry you throughout the rest of your life without a disabling fracture and allow you to stay independent long into your older years.
Mark Bromson, M.D.
20 Key Bone Nutrients, http://www.betterbones.com/bonenutrition/20keybonenutrients.aspx
Nutrient Rich Food Sources, http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/food-sources.php