Sunday, March 29, 2009

Got Milk?

As a follow up to my Adora Disk food review, I would like to take a moment to appreciate calcium supplements and calcium from whole food sources in general. 

I work on a research floor at MGH, and last year, for the fun of it I had a DEXA scan (Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry which is basically a machine that does a scan and gives you a picture of how dense your bone is along with your body fat composition.) Anywho, I was assessed to have Osteopenia- which is low bone density at any age. It is not as serious as Osteoporosis but it can escalate.
Basically the way bone growth works is you have until your late 20s to build up bone mass. You are constantly breaking down bone and building it back up, but you can still gain bone mass until then. Once you get to be about 30 years old, its all down hill from there. You can still maintain your bone mass, but you can not add to it. Which is why its so important to build up your bone mass before then, if you start off with low bone mass before you are 30 you are much more likely to develop osteoporosis.
I thought I had a pretty good diet and consumed enough calcium and workout enough, but apparently not. I figure if I had low bone density, there are tons of people out there who don’t know they have osteopenia. The problem with DEXA scans, or other ways to have your bone density checked is that they are really expensive, and not covered by insurance, except sometimes after the age of 50- which makes NO SENSE! Why bother to even check when its so late in the game?
So I am on a mission to get everyone I know (preferably before the age of 30) to build up as much bone mass as possible! How do we do this:
Increase Calcium intake: You need at least 1000-1200 mg/ day (depending on age and gender).
Ways to increase your calcium intake include eating more dairy products such as low fat milk, yogurt, and cheese . If you are lactose intolerant (like me…) or a vegan/ vegetarian, there are still plenty of other modified and fortified products such as lactiad, soy milk, some orange juice, cereals etc. Check out the 3 a day campaign for more tips:
Calcium is in some vegetables (check it out: but the calcium that is in these is MUCH less bioavailable- meaning that your body can’t use them as well. So if you are a vegan, vegetarian or just don’t like dairy please don’t rely on these. I am all about the veggies, but your bones need more than this.
If you do not think you can eat enough calcium in your diet, supplements are another way to go (and probably wouldn’t hurt anyway.) they have them in pill form, and chewable form, and as I reviewed: chocolate form :)

Vitamin D is also vital for bone health. So make sure you intake it with calcium or throughout day.
On top of calcium and vitamin D, weight bearing exercise is key to building bone. Partaking in “pounding” activity, in which you body is bearing a lot of weight is great for building bone (not always for your joints, but there’s never a win-win situation is there? ) So exercises like jogging are great for your legs and hips to build bone, and performing weight lifting, or other weight bearing exercises your upper body are vital. 


  1. I just found out I have osteopenia too. I now take a Ca supplement-cause as a vegan it's sometimes hard to get enough. I do a LOT of weight-bearing exercise, but its amazing how much more your diet matters in this instance. Those chocolate discs look really good though!

  2. Well its good you found out with quite a few years a head of you to build up your bone! Spread the news! haha- good luck on increasing your bone mass :)