July came in with a bang this year—and I’m not talking about fireworks on the Fourth. It’s hot as blazes out there, which makes it hard to get motivated and go outside to move around! We know that exercise and sunshine are vital to keeping our bones strong and healthy, but that doesn’t make it easy to trade the comfort of the A/C for the sweltering summer heat.
Well, I have an idea on how to give those bones more of what they need, even while you’re spending time inside. Sit back and relax with some cool, high-cal snacks—high calcium, that is!
Osteoporosis affects an estimated 10 million people nationwide, the vast majority of whom are women. This incredibly common disease is characterized by low bone mass, changes in the microarchitecture of the bones and a weak, fragile skeleton. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about half of us women over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. And osteoporosis can also cause us to hunch over, losing height.
One major problem is that such as many other diseases, osteoporosis doesn’t cause symptoms until it’s too late. So the best solution is prevention. And how can you prevent osteoporosis? One way is to make sure you’re getting the calcium you need.
How much calcium do you need? The bulk of research has been conducted on postmenopausal women. Ideally, these women should strive to consume 1,200 mg calcium and 800 IU vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium). For younger women, the recommendations go down to 1,000 mg calcium and 400–600 IU vitamin D.
That might sound like a mouthful of math, but meeting your daily intake can be as simple as opening your fridge. For example, yogurt is loaded with calcium—it’s one of the best sources of calcium. Most yogurt has about 400 mg of calcium per serving. It’s easy to calculate how many milligrams of calcium in one serving: Just add a zero to the percentage of calcium listed on the label, and that will equal the amount of calcium in milligrams. So, if your carton of yogurt says 40 percent calcium, that equals 400 mg calcium.
For a refreshing summer treat, take a little yogurt, add some fresh or frozen fruit—like peaches or berries—and put it all in a blender to enjoy a delectable bone-boosting smoothie!
Up the cool factor of your treat by freezing the smoothie to make creamy popsicles (without all the added sugar of store-bought fro-yo). Or if yogurt is not your thing, substitute cow, soy or Lactaid milk.
At mealtime, dark, leafy green vegetables and salmon are both good sources of calcium.
Since most of us do not get enough calcium in our diets, you can also take calcium and vitamin D supplements. But don’t overdo it: Some research suggests that too much calcium can lead to kidney problems.
For the best results, take your smoothie-pop for a walk outside. A dose of calcium, some low-impact weight-bearing exercise and a shot of vitamin D from the sun is a great way to get through a hot summer day and keep your bones in tip-top shape.
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