Osteoporosis Diet Danger June 03, 2008 1:25 PM
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Osteoporosis Diet Danger 1: Salt Is Bad for the Bone! Salt, soda, caffeine: Could your daily diet be damaging your bones -- even leading to osteoporosis?
by Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
enough calcium and vitamin D is essential for warding off osteoporosis.
For even stronger bones, avoid these everyday osteoporosis diet dangers.
Osteoporosis Diet Danger 1: Salt Is Bad for the Bone!
Salt can pose a great obstacle to a sturdy skeleton. Research has
found that postmenopausal women with a high-salt diet lose more bone
minerals than other women of the same age.
"The salt content of the typical American diet is one of the reasons
why calcium requirements are so high," says Linda K. Massey, PhD, RD, a
professor of human nutrition at Washington State University in Spokane.
Massey says studies show that regular table salt, not simply sodium,
causes calcium loss, weakening bones with time. That's important
because Americans get about 90% of our sodium through salt.
We also get about twice as much sodium as we should. The 2005
Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise limiting sodium to 2,300
milligrams a day equal to a teaspoon of salt. But most Americans get
at least 4,000 milligrams a day.
"Generally speaking, for every 2,300 milligrams of sodium you take
in, about 40 milligrams of calcium is lost in the urine," Massey
Getting the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D every day helps offset bone loss from salt.
- Adults up to age 50 require 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily -- the equivalent of three 8-ounce glasses of milk
- Older adults need 1,200 milligrams of daily calcium about half a glass more of milk.
As for vitamin D:
- People need 200 International Units (IU) of vitamin D a day until age 50
- Adults need 400 IU of vitamin D from the ages of 51 to 70 years
- Seniors need 600 IU of vitamin D a day after age 70
Good sources of vitamin D are natural sunlight and from fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and supplements.
Of all the dangers to bone, salt is perhaps the hardest to curb.
Salt shows up in nearly all processed foods, including whole grain
breads, breakfast cereals, and fast foods.
Removing the salt shaker from the table, and cooking without added
salt, helps. But avoiding processed foods provides the biggest bang for
the buck. Processed foods supply 75% of the sodium we eat.
If you want to get a grip on this diet danger, here are some of the
highest-salt foods to limit or avoid. Choose no-added salt versions
- Processed meats, such as deli turkey and ham, and hot dogs
- Fast food, such as pizza, burgers, tacos, and fries
- Processed foods, including regular and reduced-calorie frozen meals
- Regular canned soups and vegetables and vegetable juices
- Baked products, including breads and breakfast cereals
Scan food labels for sodium content. There's a good chance the
majority of it comes from salt, so the lower the sodium, the better for
When you dine out, check the web sites of your favorite restaurants
for the sodium content of the dishes you order most often. If your
typical meals exceed 800 milligrams of sodium, opt for lower-sodium
alternatives, such as grilled fish or chicken, steamed vegetables,
baked potato, and salad. Request that your meal be prepared without
If you think you can't lower your salt sufficiently, eat plenty of
potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, tomatoes, and orange juice.
Potassium may help decrease the loss of calcium.
Osteoporosis Diet Danger 2: Some Popular Drinks
Many soft drinks and certain other carbonated soft drinks contain
phosphoric acid, which can increase calcium excretion in your urine.
And nearly all soft drinks lack calcium. That combination spells
trouble for women at risk of osteoporosis.
"Excess phosphorus promotes calcium loss from the body when calcium intake is low," Massey explains.
The occasional soda is fine, but many people, particularly women,
consume more than an occasional can or glass. To make matters worse,
soft drink consumers may also avoid calcium-laden beverages that
bolster bones, such as milk, yogurt-based drinks, and calcium and
vitamin D fortified orange juice.
To prevent osteoporosis, instead sip these drinks:
Osteoporosis Diet Danger 3: The Cost of Caffeine
- Eight ounces of orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D
- A mixture of fortified orange juice and seltzer or club soda that's free of phosphoric acid
smoothie: Combine 8 ounces fat-free yogurt, one medium banana or a cup
of fresh or frozen berries and 2 ice cubes in a blender or food
- Fat-free plain or chocolate milk
Caffeine leaches calcium from bones, sapping their strength.
"You lose about 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine ingested," Massey says.
That's not as much of a loss as salt, but it's worrisome,
nonetheless. Caffeine is a particular problem when a woman doesn't get
enough calcium each day to begin with.
The good news is that limiting caffeine intake to 300 milligrams a
day while getting adequate calcium probably offsets any losses caffe
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