The Best Bone Building Food (P.S. It is NOT Milk)

Photo Courtesy Technorati.com

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

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 This outdated nutrition advice to “drink milk” to increase bone strength needs to be abolished, or at least restated.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:

  • Yoga
  • Running, jogging (try for interval cardio)
  • Walking
  • Weight Lifting (I haven’t much experience in this)
  • Jumping
  • Cylcing
Since spring is on its way, and it’s already starting to warm up, it’s the perfect time to get outside and build your bones! Go walking in the sunshine, or cycling, soaking up the beneficial rays to get that valuable vitamin D. Come in and enjoy a green smoothie and know you are doing good for your body.
This is The Healthy Advocate.
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3 Responses to “The Best Bone Building Food (P.S. It is NOT Milk)”
  1. Heather 10 April 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    What a great myth to bust! I hope this message reaches a lot of people so they can realize that dairy is not the way to get calcium and strengthen bones. There is so much that is skewed by big corporations and good mothers are taught to give their kids dairy to make them big and strong. Whereas the exact opposite is happening. After just finishing the book the China Study the fact that the countries with the highest cow’s milk consumption also has the highest incidence of osteoporosis is no coincidence which you have just explained why. Luckily with the rising incidence of lactose-intolerance there are more dairy free options for everyone. And of course there is an abundance of calcium readily available in our vegetables but you won’t learn that from TV commercials 😉

    • admin 14 April 2012 at 11:27 am #

      Exactly Heather, we aren’t learning this through the major media outlets, and sadly, even dietitians, medical doctors and other professionals are still being taught this outdated doctrine. I love the fact that the China Study pointed out that correlation to osteoporosis – it makes one think :)

  2. Loretta 17 May 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    Thanks for the great article.

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