Should you take a calcium supplement?

I was recently asked about whether calcium and vitamin D supplements are helpful for bone health. What I like to say about supplements in general is this: They’re called supplements, not substitutes. Supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet. More calcium will not necessarily help if you’re not getting the other nutrients necessary to make use of it. It will also not help very much if you’re consuming other things in your diet that actually hurt bone health.
I’ll give you an example of why, in my opinion, calcium is not as important for bone health as most people imagine. Americans eat much more calcium-rich dairy food like cheese and milk than most other countries, but we also have some of the highest incidence of bone disease in the world. People in Singapore, on the other hand, don’t eat very much dairy at all and eat a mostly plant-based diet, but they have a very low incidence of bone disease. How can that be?
One reason is that plants have plenty of minerals like calcium, so if you eat enough vegetables, you don’t necessarily need lots of dairy or calcium supplementation. Another reason is that in the U.S., we often eat an acidic diet. Our body likes to be at a neutral pH of 7, but when we consume something like a soda with a pH of 4, our digestive system needs to draw minerals out of our bodies to neutralize that acidity. Our bones are a “low-priority tissue” as far as our body is concerned, and they contain lots of minerals, so the body will leach those minerals from the bones to buffer the acid we’ve consumed.
So if calcium supplementation isn’t a magic bullet for bone health, what do you do? The best stuff for your bones is dark green vegetables, like kale and broccoli. These veggies have lots of calcium, and unlike supplements, they are whole foods, which means that they have everything your body needs to absorb and use the natural calcium in them.
If you take supplements, I recommend whole-food supplements like Spirulina. Drink plenty of water to help your body maintain its natural pH and replenish minerals–remember your bones are mostly water, too!
Another great way to strengthen your bones? Go for a walk! Any weight-bearing exercise is great for your bone strength.
So, should you take supplements? Maybe. But you should definitely eat plenty of green leafy veggies, and cut back or eliminate the soda!
If you know anyone who could benefit from this information, please share it!

Rake in the benefits of physical exercise!

Summer is truly over, and fall has begun! A lot of people like to get in their outdoor activity to the times of year when it’s very warm and sunny outside, but I like to take lots of walks as the leaves fall and the air becomes crisp. There’s something that feels especially good about getting your muscles warm when there’s a little chill in the air.
One good (and unavoidable for many) way that many people get exercise in the fall is by raking leaves. For those of you lucky enough to have a yard full of trees, it’s a nice way to accomplish something while experiencing the season and getting some physical activity.
If you want to maximize the fitness benefits of raking for your body, make sure that you stretch the muscles in your body that are tight before and after raking. Also, people tend to rake while facing only one direction, depending upon the dominant side of their body. If you can, make sure that you swap sides from time to time while raking. Muscle imbalances can cause injury in the long run.
If you work a muscle on one side of a joint, but allow the muscle on the opposite side of that joint to weaken, the stronger muscle will pull the joint into a dysfunctional position, and the weaker muscle will allow it to be pulled. Take the time to prevent that by raking with both sides of your body.
Another unexpected way to prevent injury in day to day activities is to get plenty of sleep. Basic fatigue can cause you to alter your movement patterns in ways that promote injury.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water even if it’s a little chilly out. You still need it, and physical activity still increases the amount you need. Eat high quality food, and skip the Halloween candy!
If you found these tips helpful, please share them with someone else!

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