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For strong bones, omit colas, moderate protein

When it comes to preventing aging, you need to think about your inner strength. We don't just mean how you respond to adversity (though good coping skills help).

We mean your skeleton. Certain things you do can sap the strength right out of your bones:


1. SKELETON DRAIN

Colas and other caffeinated drinks

CHANGE IT It's not the carbonation, it's probably the 16 phosphates in caffeinated drinks that rob your bones of calcium. So for every 12-ounce caffeinated soft drink and every 4-ounce cup of coffee you have, add 20 more milligrams of calcium to your day (on top of the 1,500 mg a day you should already be getting).


2. SKELETON DRAIN

Bad timing

CHANGE IT You can absorb only about 600 mg calcium in a two-hour period, so you need to spread doses throughout the day. You also need to get 1,000 IU of vitamin D-3 a day (1,200 IU for women older than 65), not only because it helps remodel bone, but because it allows calcium to get where it's needed. (Put 400 mg of magnesium in the mix, too; it helps prevent constipation.)


3. SKELETON DRAIN

Too much protein

CHANGE IT A protein-heavy diet can make your blood more acidic, and your body steals calcium from your bones to neutralize that acid. Don't count on supplements to pay down the whole deficit; it's better to eat right to begin with. Eat no more than one-half gram of protein for every pound you weigh.

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