The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that osteoporosis and low bone mass affect 54 million Americans over the age of 50. Osteoporosis causes an estimated two million broken bones each year, and the aftereffects are often devastating, resulting in pain, loss of mobility, and the need for long-term care. You can reduce your risk of getting osteoporosis by getting plenty of calcium in your diet now. It is never too early to start eating for bone health.
A diet rich in calcium is as important for growing bones as it is for aging ones. The National Institutes of Health recommends children over 4 years-old get at least 1,000 mg per day, with adolescents needing at least 1,300 mg per day.
Getting enough calcium in a kid’s diet can be challenging, especially if they do not like to drink milk. Most kids like cheese, though, (at least mine do) so cheese can be an effective secret weapon in the fight to calcium fortify our kids. Hard cheese, like cheddar and jack, have 200 mg of calcium per one ounce serving, while Swiss or gruyere contain 270 mg per serving. (An ounce of cheese is about one inch cubed or one 3-inch-by-3-inch slice.)
Prepackaged cheese sticks make it easy to add calcium to the lunchbox every day. The cheesy recipes below will help you add a little calcium at lunch and dinnertime as well as please little palates.
Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese
This recipe is based on Alton Brown’s recipe at Food Network. The original is very good and can be found here. I modified the recipe based on my kids’ tastes.
½ pound elbow macaroni
4 TBS Butter
¾ cup Milk, Cream, or Half-and-Half (Whatever is in the fridge.)
1 tsp salt
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
¾ tsp dry mustard
10 ounces Sharp Cheddar, shredded
Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain. Return to the pot and stir in butter until melted.
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pot along with the shredded cheese and stir over low heat until creamy and the cheese is melted.
Yields 4-6 servings
1 Flour Tortilla
2 TBS Pizza Sauce, packed in a plastic portion cup
Mozzarella Cheese, sliced or shredded
Package each item separately. Kids can assemble the tortilla, pepperoni, and cheese at lunch, roll it up, and dip it in the sauce.
My Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Two slices honey wheat bread
Three slices Genoa salami
Two slices provolone cheese
½ pear, thinly sliced
Fleischman’s Olive Oil Spread
Two slices honey wheat bread
Three slices ham
Two slices cheddar cheese
½ apple, thinly sliced
Fleischman’s Olive Oil Spread
Lay two slices of bread flat, and put a slice of cheese on each piece of bread. Assemble remaining ingredients and close up sandwich. Spread Fleischman’s Olive Oil Spread on each slice of bread, and cook in a skillet over medium heat until bread is brown and the cheese is melted.
Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women. She lives in Marietta with her husband two kids, a dog, and some fish.
I have been doing osteoporosis screening and education for many years. Once again it is the month to focus on prevention of osteoporosis. As I began to write this article, I began to review the statements produced by the national organizations focused on this disabling disease. Unfortunately, the statistics have not improved, but the incidence has increased.
For example, The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) states the following:
*Millions of Americans – 54 million to be exact – have low bone density or osteoporosis. In fact, about one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
*A woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined. And a man age 50 or older is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.
*The unfortunate fact about osteoporosis is there are no warning signs or symptoms. Unless one is proactive and gets recommended screening, a fracture (broken bone) may announce the presence of this disease.
*Osteoporosis is basically a disease of imbalance. Bone is constantly changing. When the new bone making cells don’t keep up with those breaking down old bone, the skeleton is at risk. A fracture happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone, or both. As a result, your bones become fragile and may break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, even from sneezing or bumping into furniture.
*The good news is that early detection of low bone mass can signal a need for action that can prevent future pain and disability.
*Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help slow or stop the loss of bone mass and help prevent fractures.
*Now, there are also a variety of medications that can slow bone loss or actually re-build bone.
*So…..What to do? I recommend getting informed, make lifestyle adjustments as indicated, get screened, seek treatment as needed and prevent falls. Credible resources on line are listed at the end of this article. Look them up and take action!
NOF recommends the following three steps for bone health:
1. Aim to get the recommended daily amount of calcium you need from food first and supplement only as needed to make up for any shortfall. There is no benefit to taking more calcium than the recommended daily amount and too much may be harmful. Vitamin D may not be present at adequate levels in food, so you may need to take a supplement to get the recommended amount of vitamin D.
2. Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercising and not smoking or drinking too much alcohol.
3. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, work with your healthcare provider to determine an appropriate treatment plan. This may include medication, as well as counseling on consuming a bone healthy diet rich in both calcium and vitamin D that includes the amounts recommended, and exercise regimen. Follow your plan and consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your treatment.
Resource Recommendation: The National Osteoporosis Foundation
Sharon Baker, BSN, MN, CWHNP, is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women. She is also President & Founder of WIN.
May is National Osteoporosis Month
The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that osteoporosis and low bone mass affect 54 million Americans over the age of 50. Osteoporosis causes an estimated two million broken bones each year, and the aftereffects are often devastating, resulting in pain, loss of mobility, and the need for long-term care. You can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis by getting plenty of calcium in your diet now. It is never too early to start eating for bone health.
I’m sure your mother told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is. Fueling your body after a full night’s sleep (you did get a full night’s sleep, right?) sets the stage for an active and productive day.
The problem is breakfast is the meal we have the least time to prepare. Getting ourselves out the door in the morning leaves little time to sit down and eat, so breakfast is often something we can make quickly or grab and go.
Breakfast food is an excellent source of a significant portion of your daily calcium needs. Pairing calcium-fortified cereal with milk or having some yogurt and fruit with a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice gets you ahead of the calcium game for the day. Neither of these is very portable, though.
One of my favorite breakfasts on the go is a yogurt-based smoothie. I like to throw whatever frozen fruit I have in the freezer in a blender, add a liberal splash of orange juice or milk, and a generous portion of vanilla yogurt. If it needs a little sweetening, I add some honey. I throw in a handful of ice and blend it up real good, and in the time it would have taken to nuke a frozen sausage biscuit, I have a smoothie to go.
My smoothie approach is not for everyone. For those who prefer the guidance of a recipe, here are a few that sound yummy.
Fruit Smoothie (from the book Bone Appetit by the Georgia Osteoporosis Initiative)
2 oz. frozen blueberries
2 oz. frozen strawberries
2 oz. frozen raspberries
1 cup yogurt
2 TBS nonfat dry milk
½ cup milk
½ cup calcium-fortified orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. You can add ice if desired.
Yields 2 servings
Groovy Smoothie (from the book Bone Appetit by the Georgia Osteoporosis Initiative)
2 small ripe bananas cut into chunks
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt
¾ cup milk
Combine in a blender and process until smooth.
Yields 2 servings
Strawberry-Orange Smoothie (from Betty Crocker)
2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 (10 oz.) bag frozen strawberries
¼ cup calcium-fortified orange juice
1 TBS honey
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Yields 3 servings
Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women. She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.