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Nutrition and osteoporosis are closely linked. If you’re not getting the right nutrients, whether in your diet or through supplements, you’re putting yourself at greater risk for osteoporosis. But just what nutrients should you be getting to help fight osteoporosis, and how should you be getting them?
The most important nutrients for fighting osteoporosis are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a key building block for your bones, while vitamin D is the “key” that unlocks the door to your bones and allows them to absorb calcium.
The National Academy of Sciences has developed recommendations for how much calcium and vitamin D you need at every age:
To “unlock” that calcium, the National Academy of Sciences recommends 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day from age 1 through age 70 and 800 IU after age 70. But some experts are now saying we need even more vitamin D.
To find out how much vitamin D you personally need, consider a blood test for vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D) from your doctor. It measures how much vitamin D is in your body.
Experts think that vitamin D may do more to protect you from osteoporosis than only helping you absorb calcium.
“Particularly in older individuals, vitamin D deficiency makes you more likely to fall down,” says Ethel Siris, director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center at Columbia University Medical Center. “If you get enough vitamin D, you not only improve your calcium, but you’re less likely to fall and get a fracture.”
To strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis, you can get calcium and vitamin D from your diet, supplements, or both. What’s most important is that you get them. But if you can, it’s best to get these nutrients in the food you eat and the beverages you drink.
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