We all know that our diet can have dramatic impact on our bodies’ health, but often we’re not aware of exactly how and to what extent. In particular, our body’s most necessary support systems- the spine, bones, connective tissue and muscle can cause a domino effect of ailments if they do not get the nutrients they require.
Here are the most essential vitamins and minerals you need to stay on your feet:
You absolutely must have calcium to keep up a level of bone mass to support your body, especially the bones and spine. Because the body is constantly drawing on its resources of calcium for everything from cardiovascular maintenance to skin and hair growth, it’s essential that you keep your levels optimum.
Without a sufficient amount of calcium in the body, the body will make up for deficiencies by taking calcium from the bones and spine. This will lead to diseases such as osteoporosis, a tendency for bones to break/fracture more easily, and even develop certain kinds of spinal deformity. For older women, the risk of osteoporosis is especially high.
Foods rich in calcium include:
- Orange juice
The role of vitamin D in the body cannot be underestimated. It makes sure your bones and spine stay strong and plays an essential part in keeping up collagen and connective tissue; it also helps neuromuscular functioning. On top of all of this, vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium, so a deficiency in this nutrient is likely to lead to all of the problems above.
What can ensure adequate intake of D for spinal health? Though you should be sure to wear protection, fifteen to twenty minutes of exposure to sunlight per week helps your body to produce the vitamin D you need. Unfortunately, as you age, this capacity is not as effective as in youth, so extra intake is recommended for optimal bone, skin and hair health.
In foods, vitamin D can only be found in some fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), so you may want to seek out foods that are bolstered with vitamin D additives. In general, these are precisely the same foods that are already rich in calcium.
Furthermore, a diet with low fat count makes it harder to take in what vitamin D you are able to ingest. Chances are, you’ll want to use some kind of vitamin D supplement, especially if you are a vegetarian.
On top of facilitating blood clotting, vitamin K is essential in delivering calcium to your spine and bones (and ensuring that it doesn’t end up in places it doesn’t belong). In other words, it takes the chemical osteocalcin to bones so that calcium can infuse there. With deficiency of K, this simply doesn’t happen, leading to weak bones, clogged arteries and organs flooded with calcium.
Luckily for us, vitamin K is naturally on the ready from a wide swath of food sources. Those dark green “superfoods” are prime suspects: kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and Swiss chard. We can also get it in fermented foods, including miso and the Japanese soy paste natto.
Making sure your spine/bone health is up to speed isn’t difficult, given the many great foods support it; however, here is one area in which poor health may be literally crippling, so be sure to maintain a recommended intake of all of these vitamins and minerals.
Author: Virginia Cunningham is a freelance health writer from Southern California whose writing covers everything from alternative medicine to skin care and sustainability. She is always sure to include the necessary vitamins in her diet that her bones need in order to stay healthy and strong.
Images Courtesy of Mercedes from the Eighties and Janine Chedid/Wikimedia Commons