Your skeleton is nothing to be afraid of this Halloween! In fact, your body is made up of 206 bones that support your every move. Although you may not realize it, your bones are like busy worker bees, constantly making and storing marrow, which manufactures white and red blood cells. And to keep your framework strong, your bones are constantly rebuilding themselves to better adapt to changes in your body like your weight.
Before greeting the neighborhood Trick or Treater’s and being tempted by all that candy, here are 3 things to BEWARE to keep your skeleton strong.
Food For Your Bones
Did you get your calcium today? If you did, give yourself a high five. But unfortunately, calcium is only one of the minerals our bones need. In fact, without the right additional minerals, little of the calcium we consume can be used. It’s like dressing up like Cruella De Ville and forgetting your puppies. You need all of your pieces to make the costume whole. At least three of the “bone-health” minerals (calcium, vitamin D and magnesium) are needed in quantities that may be difficult to obtain from diet alone.
Although many of us are aware of the need for calcium, we still don’t get enough. Women need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams per day, depending on their age and degree of risk for bone loss. The National Academy of Sciences recommends the following daily intake:
Ages 19-50: 1,000 mg/day
Age 51+: 1200 mg/day
Foods high in calcium include:
- Canned salmon with bones (12 ounces)
- Sardines (8 ounces)
- Calcium-set tofu (6 ounces)
- Calcium-fortified milk substitute (3 to 5 cups)
- Dark greens and broccoli (but to get enough, you’d have to eat between 6 and 20 cups)
A variety of other vitamins and minerals get into the bone-building act. Some delightful little potions to concoct would be like ingesting magnesium. It’s especially important and must be present in at least a 1:2 ratio to calcium. If you don’t want to whither away like a ghost, here are foods high in magnesium:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Yogurt or Kefir
- Black Beans
If you’re supplementing higher doses of calcium (to meet the 1,200-milligram recommendation) however, you’ll probably need to take a magnesium supplement as well. But make sure you take calcium that contains magnesium in the correct ratio so you’re not running around like the bride of Frankenstein!
Vitamin D is a must-have for calcium absorption. Our bodies naturally manufacture vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight, which is probably why you won’t see any vampires with a tan! Unfortunately, prolonged sun exposure ages the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. Since none of us want to scamper around like little goblins, it’s important to supplement your sun exposure by consuming milk and other vitamin-D-enriched products, and taking about 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D in pill form.
Your Bones Fear…
If your bones had feelings, they’d be afraid of the big M… menopause. During this stage of life, bones begin losing the protective effects of estrogen, and you start to lose bone faster than you can replace it. Women can even lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the five to seven years following menopause! Here’s a scary thought that would frighten any mummy back to life—one in four women experience enough bone loss to end up with osteoporosis, a condition that leaves our bones porous, brittle and fragile.
No matter what your stage of life, your bones love a good workout. Strength training at least twice a week not only protects your bones, but also increases your physical function and confidence. You could even grab your pumpkin décor and do a few squats in between visitors on Halloween!
But don’t stop there. By putting your bones under tension and pressure with a high-intensity workout such as tennis or jogging, you can strengthen your bones and burn calories. This impact makes the bones bend ever so slightly, which actually allows them to attract more calcium, which makes them stronger. As you bob for apples this weekend, bend your arms like a push up for an extra calorie burn. Remember – your body lives by the “use it or lose it” principle!
Your Skeleton Is Begging You To Avoid…
As you’re slurping your morning Joe this morning, your bones may be begging for you to put it down. Some studies are showing that drinking 300-500 mg of caffeine per day results in calcium loss over time, especially for women. That would shock the evil right out of any ghoulish monster!
If you aren’t ready to part with your morning coffee, try adding 2 Tbsp. of both grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil (recipe here). This is known as “bulletproof coffee,” and is a longstanding tradition in many parts of the world. It keeps hunger at bay and can enhance your mental clarity and sharpness 20 to 25 percent. (Click here to listen to the podcast with Bulletproof Coffee founder, Dave Asprey!)
But replacing your coffee with soda won’t do you any favors. Soda contains phosphorus, which causes your kidneys to work overtime. This creates an unhealthy calcium-phosphorus balance, which is definitely bad to the bone. Drinking soda is like drinking a witch’s brew and hoping she wasn’t mad when she made it.
Also, beware of the saltshaker. Aim for a daily sodium intake of below 1,500 mg. An excess of salt leeches the calcium from your body. It’ll be bad news for you and your skeleton will be trembling with fright from the brackish effects.
Happy Halloween and here’s to staying away from all the scary little ogres that’ll try to wreck havoc on our skeletons!