If I drink enough milk, I greatly decrease the risks of developing osteoporosis, right?
Well, consuming dairy foods is definitely a good start. However, a misperception is that just doing this one thing is enough to prevent your bones from weakening, and that is just not true. You also need to eat a diet that is healthful overall, because research has proven that many nutrients besides calcium and vitamin D are important to bone health.
Physical activity is another area you should not overlook. Ideally your workouts should include both aerobic and strength-training moves. Drinking too much alcohol and smoking cigarettes also can have detrimental effects on your bones. Eating a diet that is high in sodium and low in potassium can lead to excessive excretion of calcium; so, pump up your intake of dairy and produce, and cut down on those processed foods.
I have heard that all of your bone is built by the time that you turn 30 years old. I am 45 years old. What is the point of my improving my diet or starting strength training now?
Yes, you are correct. Most of your bone is built before you turn 30 years old. However, even people much older than 30 years of age can build a small amount of bone by initiating good habits. However, what you really need to strive for is the prevention of bone loss. It still is crucial that you change any habits now that might harm you later. Most women lose 1%-5% of their bone density per year throughout their lifetime.
I read that vitamin A might actually cause bone loss. Should I avoid eating orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, such as carrots?
An association does seem to exist between preformed vitamin A, also known as retinoids, and osteoporosis, according to some research findings. However, this research is not conclusive. Preformed vitamin A is found in animal foods, supplements, and fortified foods. It also is applied topically as treatment for many skin disorders, including psoriasis and acne. It is not found in plant foods. The form of vitamin A found in plants is beta-carotene, which is healthy and may improve your bone health. You definitely should not start to avoid those carrots!
Is it true that drinking soda will leech the calcium right out of my bones?
In 2006, researchers at Tufts discovered that people who drank either diet or regular cola-based soda at least three times/day for 5 years had significantly lower bone density than those who did not drink as much cola-based soda. The other carbonated beverages did not have the same effect. The likely culprits are the phosphoric acid and possibly the caffeine in the soda. It is recommended, for this reason, that people limit their soda intake and choose other beverages instead.
References and recommended readings
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Vitamin A and bone health. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Nutrition/vitamin_a.asp. Accessed November 17, 2009.
Shaw G. Soda and osteoporosis: Is there a connection? Available at:
http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/soda-osteoporosis. Accessed November 17, 2009.
University of Washington, School of Medicine. What is the average annual rate of bone density loss in women? Available at: http://osteoed.org/faqs.php?faqID=9. Accessed November 17. 2009.
Review Date 12/09