We all know the importance of calcium for strong bones, a key part of human anatomy. But have you ever taken out the time to think if calcium alone can keep your health on track or not? And if not, then what are the other nutrients that your body needs to keep your bones fit and healthy?
First of all, we’re not saying that calcium is not important, but calcium is not the only nutrient that your body needs. It may be the most vital to keep your bones strong and healthy, but you need more nutrients as well.
Dr. Yogesh K, Consultant – Orthopedics, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru, tells HealthShots, that “Calcium is the key nutrient for bone health. The other nutrients help and regulate the function of calcium at various levels from absorption into the body to deposition in the bone.” And that’s why adding the right amount of other nutrients in your diet is as important as adding calcium for bone health.
Without further ado, let’s tell you about the five nutrients that you should incorporate into your diet along with calcium:
– Vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as a sunshine nutrient, is one of the most important vitamins your body requires to stay healthy. Dr Yogesh says, “Vitamin D is necessary for calcium to be absorbed in the intestine.” Not just that, it helps to increase bone density and maintain healthy bone health. To increase your vitamin D intake, you can add these foods like fatty fish (swordfish, salmon, sardines, mackerel), fortified foods (dairy, cereal) and egg yolks.
Like all vitamins, minerals also play an extremely important role in maintaining our health and magnesium is one of them. “It regulates proper calcium and vitamin D levels in the body, and can improve bone density and bone crystal formation,” says Dr Yogesh. In fact, magnesium also reduces the risk of osteoporosis in females after menopause. Magnesium is found in green vegetables (collards, kale, bok choy, okra), seeds (poppy, sesame, chia), nuts, legumes, whole grains, avocado.
Phosphorus is another important nutrient for bone health. “It is a part of bone mineral and important for neutralizing acidic foods that would otherwise be harmful to the bone,” says Dr Yogesh. Phosphorus-rich foods are protein foods (soybeans, fish, meat, milk, eggs), legumes, and whole grains.
– Vitamin A
Vitamin A nutrient can improve your eyesight, maintain your neurological functions and ensure healthy skin, but guess what? It is also important for your bone health. “Vitamin A influences osteoblasts (bone-building cells) and osteoclasts (bone breaking down cells) to help improve your bone and teeth strength,” according to Dr Yogesh. Foods rich in vitamin A are sweet potato, beef liver, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, fortified foods, and eggs.
Zinc is an essential dietary micronutrient because of its fundamental role in gene expression, cell development, and replication during all life stages particularly pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. For bone health, Dr Yogesh says, “Zinc is responsible for mineralizing bone and stabilizing receptor proteins for vitamin D, and protein synthesis.” It is present in shellfish, beef, pork, seeds, beans, whole grains, and yogurt.
Moreover, to increase your daily calcium intake the best source of calcium is dairy products, but you can also add parmesan cheese, chia seeds, almonds, tofu, black eyed peas (lobia), beetroot greens, and oranges.