If you worry about weak bones and want to make sure your bones stay strong, then there are several essential vitamins and minerals you want to be sure you are getting. I am sure you know that calcium and vitamin D are absolutely necessary for bone health. Calcium is a major component of bone, and vitamin D helps ensure calcium is absorbed into the body. However, calcium and vitamin D are only 2 of many essential vitamins and minerals needed by bones. In fact, calcium alone only has a very minimal effect on bone density.
1. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is one of the essential vitamins and minerals that you need for strong, healthy bones. Of the several types of vitamin K, vitamin K2 is the most important for bone health. It is so important for bone health that it has actually been shown to improve bone density in patients with osteoporosis. Vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin, the protein required for calcium to be deposited in the bones. This type of vitamin K also decreases overall inflammation in the body, which is helpful to bones because inflammation increases the production of osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are cells that break down bone, and if you are trying to increase density they are not helpful. By now, you may be wondering where you can find vitamin K2 in your diet. This vitamin is found in egg yolks, cheese, raw sauerkraut, and fermented soybeans called natto. Vitamin K1, which is found in leafy greens, can also be converted into vitamin K2 by the healthy bacteria in your intestines. Getting enough vitamin K will go a long way toward ensuring your bones are healthy!
2. B Vitamins
Normally, I associated B vitamins with energy because deficiencies in these vitamins can make you feel very sluggish. However, B vitamins are also necessary for strong bones. Vitamin B6, B12, folate, and riboflavin all work together to prevent levels of homocysteine from accumulating in your body. Homocysteine triggers bones to break down, and it interferes with collagen cross linking. This matters because collagen is the main protein component in bones. To keep levels of homocysteine in check, your body needs an adequate supply of B vitamins because they metabolize it and make it harmless.
3. Vitamin C
It seems as if there is nothing vitamin C can’t do. It boosts the immune system, fights free radicals, and makes skin healthy and glowing. It also, helps your bones stay healthy. Vitamin C is important for bones because it is a cofactor for collagen, which I already mentioned is an important part of the bone matrix. Vitamin C also stimulates the bone building cells, osteoblasts, and decreases inflammation that stimulates osteoclasts. Next time you eat an orange or some strawberries, you will know that the vitamin C in these fruits is not just improving your immune system. It is also helping your bones!
Magnesium is a macro mineral that activates more than 300 enzymes involved in the production of the main energy enzyme, ATP! Aside from this important function, magnesium gives structure to bones and helps convert Vitamin D into its active form. It also regulates the secretion of calcitonin, which is a hormone that maintains calcium levels in the blood stream. When you are under stress, your body uses more magnesium. This means that it is absolutely essential you get enough magnesium. Excellent sources of this mineral include hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, cooked spinach, and raw cacao. Certainly, a green smoothie with some hemp seeds, raw cacao, and frozen spinach would give you a healthy dose of magnesium, and it would be very tasty!
Zinc is a mineral that I often take in the form of lozenges when I have a sore throat, but zinc is also an important mineral for healthy bones. Zinc stimulates collagen synthesis and bone formation and mineralization. It also decreases bone resorption, which is the process that occurs when osteoclasts break down bone. In addition to being good sources of magnesium, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds are also good sources of zinc. One serving of hemp seeds actually has 25% of your daily value! Clearly, sprinkling these nutty tasting gems can really help your bones be strong.
Silica is a trace mineral that the body needs for healthy bones. Because it is a trace mineral, not very much is needed, but the little bit that the body does require is very important. Silica is like vitamin C; it increases production of the collagen your bones need. It also helps pull calcium into the bones and prevents it from accumulating in soft tissues. To make sure you are getting enough silica for healthy bones, leave the skins on your potatoes and cucumbers and eat plenty of whole grains. If you really want to make sure you are getting enough silica, you can even try horsetail or nettle tea.
Like silica, boron is a trace mineral and only 3 to 5 milligrams a day are needed. Boron converts estrogen into its active form, 17-beta-estradiol, which increases your bone’s ability to absorb magnesium. It is also necessary for a reaction in the kidneys that converts vitamin D into its active form. Boron’s usefulness is not just limited to activating estrogen and vitamin D. An experiment conducted by the USDA found that boron decreased the calcium postmenopausal women excreted by 44%! Obviously, it is a powerful little mineral, and if you like dried fruit, nuts, and avocados, you are in luck because these are all excellent sources of boron.
By now, it should be really clear that your bones need much more than just calcium and vitamin D. There are many vitamins and minerals that work together to make your bones healthy and strong. However, don’t let all of these vitamins and minerals overwhelm you because eating a healthy diet will provide you with all of these bone building nutrients. What foods are you going to start eating to make sure you get all of your bone building vitamins and minerals?
Source: Pizzorno, Lara and Jonathan V. Wright. Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life Naturally. Mount Jackson, VA: Praktikos Books, 2011. Print, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov