Calcium: Exercise, Nutrition and Bone Health

It is quite easy to get a healthy intake of calcium in the diet with the proper foods. Great sources of calcium include a spinach salad, a handful of almonds, a cheese sandwich, or yoghurt.

Calcium food sources


Calcium is crucial for healthy teeth and bones and makes sure nerves, cells, and muscles work properly.

Eat calcium-rich foods to achieve the daily recommended intake of 700-1000 mg a day (or 1200 mg for those with osteoporosis). A proper intake of calcium is great at lowering blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Top calcium-rich foods include:

  • Cheese
  • Flour
  • Fruit (dried)
  • Kale
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Salmon (canned)
  • Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Tofu
  • Water
  • Yoghurt (low-fat)

Get your quota of vitamin D

Calcium is much easier to absorb when combined with vitamin D. This vital nutrient is naturally sourced from egg yolks, cereals, fortified spreads, liver and oily fish. Also, the body is able to create vitamin D when expose to natural sunlight. A regular 15-20 minute session outside in the sun up to three times per week is enough to get the desired amount of vitamin D.

Go easy on the protein

A diet rich in protein, cheese, and meat can result in a high production of body acid, which has the potential to drain the existing calcium and leave the bones weaker. A well-balanced diet is more practical. Everyday meals should include a combination of carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, pasta, and bread), fresh vegetables and fruit, and protein (seeds, nuts, eggs, fish, and meat).

  • Sardines – Sardines are a great source of calcium and a 3.75 ounce can include 31 mg. Salty fish like sardines are great for adding umami flavor to pastas and salads. Sardines also contain vitamin D (bone) and vitamin B-12 (nervous system and brain).
  • Oranges – A single large orange contains 73 mg of calcium and a full glass of orange juice includes 28 mg. Oranges are also bursting with antioxidants, low in calories, and include plenty of vitamin C.

Cut the salt intake

A salt-rich diet can increase the rate calcium is lost from the body. The recommended daily salt intake is 6 g per day, which equals a teaspoon. Avoid adding extra salt at mealtime and check the food labels.

Cooking sauces, cheese, ham, crisps and processed foods like soups, pizza, and pies are all quite high in salt content. Aim to keep the salt in food below 1.5 g per 100 g.

Drink sensibly

Fizzy drinks (cola), coffee, tea, and alcohol often has a negative impact on the calcium absorbed and can weaken the bones. Swap out the caffeine-fuelled drinks and replace with diluted juice or water. Also, stay in touch with the recommended alcohol limits.

Healthy weight

A crash diet that sees significant weight loss in a short time-frame can increase the risks related to osteoporosis. A sudden drop in weight can see a reduction in the body’s ability to produce oestrogen, which is a critical hormone needed to protect the bones. If planning to lose weight, make sure to follow a well-balanced and sensible diet plan.

Stay active

Be active and get stronger bones. Weight-bearing exercises (low-impact or high-impact) are the preferred type because they make it possible to work against gravity, while staying in an upright position.

High-impact weight-bearing exercise includes:

  • Aerobics
  • Climbing stairs
  • Dancing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Jump Rope
  • Netball
  • Tennis

A preferred time-frame to include these types of exercises is at least 5 hours per week. Bones are also benefited if you are carrying or lifting things. A regular weight lifting session can help, although housework, gardening, or carrying shopping is all helpful.

Any osteoporosis sufferer should take extra caution with high-impact exercises. A safe alternative is the low-impact weight-bearing exercises that are still able to help keep and build strong bones. Low-impact weight-bearing exercise includes:

  • Aerobics (low-impact)
  • Elliptical training machine
  • Stair-step machine
  • Fast walking (outside or treadmill)

Exercises that aren’t classified as weight-bearing include cycling and swimming. While cycle and swimming offer great cardiovascular benefits and help to maintain strong bones, they aren’t the most practical option to exercise your bones.

All-in-all, it is rarely too late to plan an exercise routine that promotes bone health, even if at high risk or already have osteoporosis.

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