Nutrition for Optimal Bone Health
Bone health is incredibly important but unfortunately, it’s not often considered until there is a problem such as a stress fracture (or worse). While there are many factors that contribute to the development of stress fractures, nutrition has an essential role in the development of good bone health and prevention of bony injuries.
Sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D is critical for the development of strong and healthy bones. Vitamin D helps to regulate blood levels of calcium and support the development and maintenance of the skeleton. Although there are small amounts of Vitamin D in oily fish, some milks and margarine, is difficult to obtain sufficient Vitamin D from food – in fact the best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Obviously, though it’s important to balance Vitamin D needs with skin cancer risk. If you’re inside most of the day and see very little sunlight, supplementation with Vitamin D may be warranted, especially over the winter months.
It will come as no surprise to most people that eating sufficient calcium rich foods is imperative for good bone health. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and other dairy foods are the obvious winner when it comes to calcium; but other alternative include almonds (hint: you could opt for a Go Natural Almond Cranberry & pepita Bar), dark green leafy vegetables, tofu and canned fish (with bones).
Energy intake a big one when it comes to bone health. It is a common misconception that only athletes with eating disorders or a low body fat percentage get stress fractures. However, recent research points towards a newer concept referred to as energy availability as being a major contributor to bone health – especially in active people. When energy availability drops too low, reproductive function and bone health can be compromised leading to loss of (or irregularities with) menstruation and increased risk of bone injuries such as stress fractures.
Importantly, low energy availability can occur unintentionally – especially in busy people. Rushing from training to work or school or to pick up the kids can result in missing out on sufficient energy to meet your daily needs. If you’re a busy and always on the go, the following tips can help you ensure that you are getting enough energy in over the day:
- Fill up a container with bircher muesli topped with almonds and berries - packed with quality carbohydrates and protein it’s an easy, quick recovery breakfast on the go
- Pack portable snacks such as a Go Natural bar in your training bag so that you can squeeze in a recovery snack after training even if you’re in a rush or running late.
- If you know that it is going to be late when you get home from training, prepare your dinner in advance so that all you need to do is re-heat and serve.
- Contribution by Ali Patterson, Australian Sports Dietician -