10 Foods for Healthy Bones and Muscles
Calcium and vitamin D are the foundation for maintaining strong bones. When looking over nutritional labels it’s important to know adults over 50 should get 1,200 mgs of calcium and 400-600 IU of vitamin D each day. Thankfully, it’s easy to find delicious and nutritious foods with both.
As a kid, you likely heard people tell you to drink your milk so you’ll grow big and strong, right? Well, there’s something to that old adage. Calcium is a crucial element to developing strong teeth and bones – it aids in muscle function as well. An 8 oz. glass of low-fat or fat-free milk delivers 30% of your daily dose of calcium. Of course, for most of us, the idea of drinking a big glass of milk can certainly turn one’s stomach. But, there are a slew of everyday foods you can incorporate into your diet to ensure you’re getting enough calcium.
Yogurt. Get a jumpstart on your day with a nutritious breakfast bowl. Go with plain or low-fat yogurt and stir in fresh blueberries for their antioxidant properties, plus chopped walnuts, to get a solid source of calcium. Yogurt alone can deliver up to 30% of your daily calcium intake.
Cheese and crackers are more than just an hors d’oeuvre at your next dinner party – it’s a solid option for calcium that can be enjoyed every day. A few slices of cheddar bring approximately 30% of your daily value.
Spinach is the favorite of a certain famous cartoon sailor because it’s packed with nutrients. One cup of cooked spinach packs 25% of your daily intake of calcium. Not to mention it contains fiber, iron and vitamin A for even more nutrients. If you’re into smoothies, toss in a handful of fresh spinach — you’ll enjoy the benefits and won’t detect the flavor. Collard greens, another leafy green, take your calcium intake up a notch, too. Just like spinach, one cup of collards brings 25% of the calcium you need each day. Other options like kale, broccoli and Swiss chard come with the benefits of a good dose of calcium.
Vitamin D + Calcium Work Together
Calcium is certainly not the only nutrient that supports bone density: Vitamin D is its own health powerhouse. These two work together to help absorb calcium into your body. Consider this analogy: Vitamin D is to the train as calcium is to the passenger. Your body needs the help of the vitamin D train to deliver the calcium passenger to the source — your bones.
Eating fish works overtime to provide healthy nutrients. Just 3 ounces of salmon is great for your heart and even better for your bones, delivering more than a full daily dose of vitamin D. Meanwhile, you might call tuna “sun in a can” because 3 ounces of this lean and delicious option packs 39% of your daily dose of vitamin D. And the next time you choose the pizza toppings, consider sardines. They have a rich savory flavor with high levels of calcium, vitamin D and protein.