The Best Bone Building Food (P.S. It is NOT Milk)
There is another myth that I’m about to bust. I like busting a lot of nutrition myths, especially those touted by governmental agencies like the USDA and the FDA. This story I am focusing on the milk myth.
Although milk has been touted as “good for your bones”, I want to tell you that this is a MYTH. Milk does contain valuable protein, calcium and fatty acids that we do need in our diets; however, there is a certain nutrient missing from milk that aide the other nutrients, like calcium and protein to help strengthen bones by keeping these nutrients where they belong.
This nutrient? Vitamin K. To be precise, vitamin K2, a form that is available primarily in dark, leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, and broccoli.
Milk Myth: Pasteurized Milk Does NOT Promote Bone Growth
When milk is pasteurized, a number of carrier enzymes are deactivated. Certain bacteria, like L. lactis is also deactivated, which helps to digest the casein in milk. It is known that the enzymes that aid in the absorption of calcium into the bones become deactivated during heating (to a degree that is not known), making it a weak food for bone building. The bioavailability of calcium in pasteurized milk is far less than in raw, clean milk
Although I do promote raw milk for a number of reasons, it still doesn’t contain the one nutrient that works synergistically with calcium to promote bone growth.
Vitamin K2, along with Vitamin D and magnesium, work together to promote proper bone growth. We are told that we need to boost our calcium to “build stronger bones”; however, when we just increase calcium, our bones can become weaker. This outdated nutrition advice to “drink milk” to increase bone strength needs to be abolished, or at least restated.
The vitamin K2 helps to promote bone formation, and some evidence links to a lack of vitamin K2 (and an abundance of calcium), to shorter, weaker bones. Vitamin K2 also works together with Vitamin D for proper bone metabolism (bone building and bone destroying), aiding in the straightening of bones.
Vitamin K2 also helps to keep calcium in our bones and out of our arteries, possibly helping to reduce calcification in the arteries.
Popular sources of vitamin K2 include spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, broccoli and all other leafy vegetable greens. All of these greens are also excellent sources of calcium. It is best to consume as many of these foods in their raw state, perhaps blending them into a green smoothie. Adding chia seeds will add some calcium, not to mention the natural calcium you receive from the vegetables.
I like receiving my vitamin K through salads, as well as through green smoothies.
Vitamin D and Magnesium
Vitamin D is produced when our skin comes in contact with sunlight (usually between the hours of 10 AM – 2 PM), activating cholesterol to produce a bioavailable source of this vitamin. It is needed for proper bone metabolism, as mentioned before, and is an important vitamin aiding bone growth in children, bone repair, immune system promotion, mood, weight, and much more.
Magnesium is also a part of our bones, and we need a proper balance of magnesium and calcium. 50% of our bodies magnesium stores are found within the bone. Foods that provide a good source of magnesium are almonds, spinach and avocado (again, try to consume these in their raw state).
Exercise is Also Efficient at Building Bones
Physical activity, of any kind, helps to strengthen bones. A healthy diet may comprise about 80% of our bodies strength and weight; however, the other 20% from exercise works to create a magical transformation in our health. We need both!
Popular bone building exercises include:
- Running, jogging (try for interval cardio)
- Weight Lifting (I haven’t much experience in this)