Food and Bone Health: Dates, Vegetables and More

Our skeletal system supports and protects us constantly. It keeps our body upright, supports our organs, and enables us to move. We should exercise and include bone-strengthening foods in our daily diet to maintain bone health. With their rich nutrient content, dates are beneficial for bone health. 

  • Bones consist of protein and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium).
  • Bones support the body structure, protect the organs, and store calcium.
  • Daily vitamin and mineral intake is essential for bone health. We must take adequate amounts of various foods consisting of micronutrients to maintain bone health.

Date provides benefits for bone health with its rich micronutrient content.

Healthy Bones Matter

Bones are living tissues that make up the body’s skeleton. They are in constant change. Over time, bone tissue degrades, and new bone tissue forms. Bone formation is greater than bone loss in children and adolescents. The fastest growth in bone occurs in up to 20 years of age. Between the ages of 12-20, bone mineral density reaches its highest level. Between the ages of 20-30, the peak bone mass remains at the same level. Between the ages of 30-40, bone loss begins. Then, bone remodeling continues, but bone loss is greater than bone formation. The likelihood of osteoporosis occurring depends on your bone mass and rate of loss. A good skeletal structure forms at an early age. Yet, our diet and lifestyle also play an important role in bone health. Maximizing bone mineral density in youth will decrease bone loss in later years.

Healthy bones are the foundation of healthy aging. The infrastructure of healthy bones forms at an early age. Our diet and lifestyle habits are essential factors that play a role in bone health at later ages.

The Silent Thief: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones and increases the risk of fracture. It is a significant health problem, especially for the elderly and women. As a result of the increased loss of calcium in the bones, they become fragile. Osteoporosis is a common bone disease. It has become an important health problem in societies with a long life expectancy. Osteoporosis affects approximately 200 million people worldwide. There are about 10 million patients with osteoporosis in the United States. Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease because it has no symptoms. The condition may remain silent until bone fracture. Fractures due to osteoporosis can lead to chronic pain, disability, and even premature death. There are non-modifiable risk factors in osteoporosis, such as age, gender, race, genetic structure, and hormone levels. Modifiable risk factors are alcohol, cigarette and coffee consumption, sedentary lifestyle, and body size. Reducing modifiable risk factors can prevent or delay the development of osteoporosis.

 

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

  • You should do anti-gravity exercises such as walking, dancing, and lifting weights.
  • You should be cautious against vitamin D deficiency. Walking outdoors helps you get vitamin D from the sun.
  • Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake will prevent the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Not smoking is critical.
  • You should maintain your ideal weight. Individuals with a body weight less than the ideal weight are at higher risk.
  • You should follow a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • You should pay attention to adequate and balanced protein consumption in your diet.
  • Strong bones are important for a healthy future. To protect your bone health, you should follow the advice of experts about your bone health.

 

Bone Health and Diet

Healthy diet is the primary step in having strong bones. Vitamins (A, B, C, E, K), minerals (potassium, magnesium), and macronutrients (protein and fats) are in direct connection with bone health. So, we should consume foods rich in minerals and vitamins to ensure a strong structure of bones. What should we include in our diet for bone health? Here are some nutritional tips for healthy bones!

 

1. Eat vegetables and fruits.

Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium. Vitamin C increases collagen production and facilitates calcium absorption. Also, it protects bone cells from damage with its antioxidant effects. Vitamin K accelerates bone formation by interacting with calcium. Potassium and magnesium play an essential role in maintaining bone density. They also allow calcium to stay in the body longer. A study conducted with postmenopausal women revealed that consuming 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day reduces the risk of bone damage.

Calcium-rich foods: collard greens, turnips, okra, mustard greens, and broccoli.

Magnesium-rich foods: spinach, avocado, beets, okra, tomatoes, artichokes, potatoes, collard greens, figs, and raisins.

Potassium-rich foods: tomatoes, raisins, potatoes, spinach, papayas, oranges, bananas, and prunes.

Vitamin C-rich foods: Red peppers, green peppers, oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, papaya, and pineapple.

Vitamin K-rich foods: kale, collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, turnips, and brussels sprouts.

 In summary, consuming vegetables and fruits more in the diet helps form healthy bones and maintain bone mass and weight. 

2. Eat dairy products.

Dairy products contribute to calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, and protein intake. Calcium is the main mineral in bones. For this reason, milk consumption is vital for bone development. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are among the richest natural sources of calcium. A glass of milk provides about one-third to one-quarter of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Consuming dairy products at every meal throughout the day will optimize calcium absorption.

 

3. Strengthen your bones with nuts, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Nuts contain many valuable elements such as unsaturated fatty acids, protein, B group vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. There are many nuts to choose from, including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and pecans. Adding a handful of nuts to your diet is beneficial for your bone strength.

 

4. Seeds have a bone-supporting nutrient profile.

Seeds contain protein, dietary fiber, essential oils and omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. A study showed that 25-50 g/day consumption of sesame seeds meet 57-65% of the daily requirement for potassium, phosphorus, and iron. It meets 13-35% for zinc, calcium, and copper. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium. You can consume seeds by pouring them on your salads.

 

5. Seafood contributes to bone health with its vitamin D and Omega-3 content.

Seafood is a source of vitamin A and vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iodine, and omega-3. Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and increase calcium absorption. Vitamin D (a.k.a. the “sunshine vitamin”) plays an important role in bone growth and remodeling. Although some vitamin D is produced by sun exposure, it is crucial to focus on food choices to get enough vitamin D.

Fatty fishes contain Omega-3 and are good sources of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. It is very important for women in the menopause period to consume seafood regularly. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and rainbow trout contain vitamin D. One study revealed that consuming fish at least once a week reduced the risk of bone fractures by 33%. The Framingham Osteoporosis Study showed that consuming ≥ 3 servings of fish per week supports bone health. We should consume fish at least two times a week.

 

6. Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.

With excessive alcohol consumption, calcium absorption decreases, and excretion increases. Similarly, we should avoid the consumption of excessively caffeinated drinks. Tea, coffee, and coke are high in caffeine. Instead, we should opt for non-caffeinated, nutrient-rich beverages such as milk and fresh fruit juices. Alcohol consumption should be less than two servings per day for men and less than one serving for women.

 

Vegans Have More Fragile Bones!

Vegan individuals remove all animal-derived foods from their diets. They prefer to consume legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Since dairy products are not consumed in vegan diets, calcium consumption may be insufficient. An 18-year follow-up study at Oxford found that vegans had 43% more health problems, such as bone fractures than meat-eaters. Vegans should include chard, beets, spinach, kale, okra, quinoa, and prunes in their diets. Dates are vegan diet-friendly and great snack alternatives with their rich selenium, copper, potassium, and magnesium content. To prevent bone health and osteoporosis, we should also take vitamin D in enough quantities.

Effect of Dates on Bone Health

Dates contain potassium, selenium, copper, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Dates are a great source of nutrients that contribute to your bone health. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend healthy eating patterns that include a variety of dried fruits. Dates are an easy way to help individuals meet their daily recommendations for fruit intake. The phenolic compounds and rich nutritional content in dates may benefit bone health. Dates are rich in micronutrients such as selenium, manganese, magnesium, and copper.

This rich content of dates provides excellent support in preventing bone problems. The micronutrients in dates are also effective in treating bone disorders such as osteoporosis. Thus, we recommend adding dates to your diet so that your bones can stay healthy throughout your life. Selenium has antioxidant properties and plays a protective role against many diseases. Dates contain minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. In particular, taking calcium and phosphorus together enables your bones to benefit more from minerals. In this way, dates make a vital contribution to maintaining bone health.

Summary

To strengthen our bones, we should consume dates as a supplement. People who have osteoporosis are more likely to suffer from fractures and other problems due to poor bone health. The need for these micronutrients is mainly met from fruits. So, we should consume foods, including dates, that contribute to bone health.

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION:

  •  Micronutrients – are vitamins, minerals, and trace elements critical to energy metabolism, cellular growth and differentiation, organ function, and immune function.
  • Macronutrients – are the nutrients we need in larger quantities that provide us with energy: in other words, fat, protein, and carbohydrate.
  • Osteoporosis – is a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break (fracture).
  • Antioxidants –are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.
Written by:
Esra Aktan
Nutrionist
Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian

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