Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder that primarily affects women over 50 years of age. It is characterized by compromised bone strenth - both quality and density - and can increase risk of fracture. Something that many of us may not know is that we build our bone mass up to about 25 years of age, with a steady loss thereafter. Certain lifestyle factors can increase your chance of osteoporosis including suboptimal nutrition (especially vitamin D and calcium), inadequate physical activity, smoking and excessive alcohol intake. This makes it especially important to get calcium in your twenties as a woman. Calcium is important for several reason including aiding muscle contraction, supporting bone health and cell signaling. 99% of our total body calcium resides in bone.

Dietary sources:
While milk, yogurt and cheese are all good sources of calcium, it is important to recognie other sources as well. Leafy greens like collards, turnip greens, kale and nuts are also considered good sources. Additionally, I reccomend canned salmon and sardines (with bones) to my clients. It is important to note that dairy is amount the most potent sources of calcium and in order to reap the same amounts from plants, greater amounts must be consumed. For instance, 1 cup of dairy provides calcium in the equivalent amount that you would find in about 15 cups of spinach or 2 cups or turnip greens.

A note about supplements:
I am hesitant to recommend calcium supplements to my clients because of conflicting research suggesting its link to vascular disease. It is best to get your calcium from food.

Read more about calcium on nutritionbymia.com.