Make No Bones About It-The Calcium Low-Down

February 17, 2009

Make no bones about it. As we approach middle age (and yes, it has to be called “middle” age.Take the age you expect to live to, then cut it in half-see? )the bare-bone truth about your skeleton is that, especially in pre and post menopausal women, you can ONLY maintain or LOSE bone density. You cannot naturally regain it. Yes, I know there are some strong prescription medicines (Fosomax-think Sally Field) out there that reverse bone density but you’ve only got to look at the precaution/side effects label on those drugs to try a more wholisitic route if at all possible, one side effect is that these strong drugs will erode your esophagus away if you lay down within 30 minutes after taking them so you can bet they are stonger than a calcium supplement.
Do you even know whether you get 1000 milligrams of calcium everyday? Most multi-vitamins do not add much calcium because it interferes with the absorption of other vitamins. A day’s requirement is about three cups of milk or twelve cups of ice cream:)
I’ve come across way too many ladies going through reverse puberty, as I like to think of it, who take no calcium supplement and the only dairy they consume is milk in their Venti Latte (skim milk has the same amount of calcium as whole so keep it skinny).
The changing face of fitness is about keeping what you’ve got-it has to be your daily priority.
So before we move on to exercises that you can do at home to strengthen your bones through weight-bearing movement(Get those Free Spirits velcroed on), here is what you need to do.
Here’s your prescription-1200 mg of calcium along with 1000 mg of D. Taking a calcium supplement with added vitamin D  boosts calcium absorption and if your eyes aren’t crossing yet, look for one with Vitamin K(helps form bone protein).
Some purists may not agree but I like the Viactiv calcium chews.  They are chocolate chewies that taste similar to a tootsie roll if your candy standards are low. Think mini tootsie roll for baby zoomers .20 calories each. You take two per day. It’s a nice little treat mid-morning and  mid-afternoon. And oh, yeah, you must take them separately since your body can only absorb 500 milligrams at a time(who knew).
Calcium fortified Orange Juice has the same amount of calcium as an equal amount of milk.It is worth the extra pennies if you are not a milk drinker because the Vitamin C in the OJ also aids absorption.
Why is this so monotonously important, you wonder?
Decreased bone density is a major cause of fractures in postmenopausal women, mostly wrist,long bones of the foot,spine and hip, with hip fractures increasing significantly later in life(this has to do with the loss of BALANCE,which is another issue. How many of you have a grandparent break something when they lose their balance and topple over,hmm?)

Resistance (or strength training) exercise can make bones stronger so that if you do fall over (hopefully my drinkers are listening)nothing will break!

Another great way to solidify your bones is to get twenty minutes of sunlight per day. Recent research has shown that as much as 70% of Americans (especially darker skinned) are Vitamin D deficient, due to an increase in sunscreen use which is good for your skin but bad for your bones. The same sun rays that burn your skin also feed your bones. This deficiency  has scarily been strongly linked to cancer and other age-related diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s. What to do? Keep wearing your sunscreen but shove those sleeves up when the sun is beaming in the window. Make a point of getting some sun on a less vulnerable part of your skin.  Twenty minutes equals the same amount of vitamin D in 1000 glasses of milk.

Try to switch to an aerial view of your lifestyle. Are you more able to see your fitness future?If you don’t like what you see, it’s not to late! Little changes make a difference. Like the wonderful yoga teacher, Judith Lasater says,”If you think  details don’t matter, remember that one chromosome different on the end of the DNA strand and you’re a monkey.”

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