If you are among the many people who take calcium supplements, think again. While any calcium is better than no calcium, a calcium-rich diet is the best bet for bone health. Here's some info to help you keep your skeleton strong.
• You have a life-long need for calcium because your bones are constantly in flux, remodeling by releasing and then redepositing calcium.
• After menopause, the balance between bone breakdown and formation shifts, resulting in bone loss and therisk of osteoporosis—particularly if you are not eating adequate calcium-rich foods.
• The body’s ability to absorb calcium declines with age. That’s explains why the recommended intake of calcium goes from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day for women over 50 and men over 70.
• Calcium depends on stomach acids to be absorbed, so consuming calcium as a food (as opposed to a supplement) enhances calcium absorption. Plus small doses of calcium are absorbed better than 500 mg doses. Hence, eating a calcium-rich food at each meal is preferable to the unnatural consumption of one big bolus of calcium via supplement.
• Yogurt (not Greek) offers more calcium ounce for ounce, than milk, plus the active cultures in yogurt increase the body’s absorption of calcium.
• If you are counting on spinach, collards, and Swiss chard for calcium, heads up. Those foods have a high level of oxalic acid, which binds calcium so you absorb less than the nutritional numbers promise. If you eat a wide variety of foods, this is of little significance, because the DRIs take into account dietary factors that effect absorption. But if veggies are your main calcium source, think again.
• Be sure to get adequate vitamin D (800 IUs daily) to make use of the calcium you consume.
As the days get longer, its time to start thinking about taking Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin; when sun shines on your skin, it activates Vitamin D. D is important for not only helping absorb calcium and enhance bone strength, but also helping to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, MS, and numerous other conditions. If you live north of Atlanta in the winter, you should take vitamin D supplements (either D-2 or D-3 is fine) because the sun is too weak to make D between Thanksgiving and Easter.
Vitamin D was once thought to be abundantly provided by sunshine, but we now know that many people have low levels of vitamin D. Indoor athletes (as well as overweight people) are at high risk for D-deficiency. Even outdoor athletes have been found to have low levels of D, so be sure to ask your MD to have your D level tested.
According to Dr. Michael Hollick, speaker at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Fourth Annual Symposium at Tufts University in Boston, consuming adequate D through your diet is difficult. Fortified milk and oily fish are the best sources, but they might supply only 400 of the recommended 1,000 IUs of D per day.
He recommends taking 1,000 IUs of vitamin D-2 or D-3, especially if you live north of Atlanta during the winter months.
What happens to vitamins? Do we need to replenish them every day because they get flushed out of our bodies and down the toilet?
And in the course of a bout of exercise, which of them can contribute to a decline in performance? That is, are they removed from the point of use?
Heres what this athlete needs to know about vitamins.
First off, vitamins are like spark plugs in a car. They get recycled and re-used.
As humans, we can store vitamins in our body--in the liver. (Thats why liver is so nutritious, for people who enjoy eating chicken livers or beef liver). A healthy person has about a six-week supply of Vitamin C, and a several months supply of vitamin A.
If you fail to eat the RDA for a certain vitamin on one day, you will not become deficient overnight.
The goal is to eat well over the course of the week, month, and year, so you can consume the vitamins you need from food. One day of poor eating will not hurt your performance.
A decline in performance is more likely due to lack of fuel (from carbohydrates) or lack of water--but not lack of vitamins in an athlete who eats adequately (as opposed to restricts food intake). The exception is the common deficiency of iron, which can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
By eating colorful vegetables, a variety of fruits, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy, you can consume both the vitamins you need for spark lugs and the carbs you need for fuel to excel.