Did you ever hear you mother say (or perhaps you say) "Drink Your Milk" and "Go outside and play"? Even though we may be reluctant to follow the advice, its advice that's right! Research shows that what we eat and how active we are in the first two decades of our lives, help determines our bone health as we age.  This month on "Its about You", Christopher Berger, PhD, University of Kentucky Kinesiology & Health Promotion Instructor discusses the importance of maintaining good bone health with weight bearing exercises and Marisa Fitzgerald Aull, Family Consumer Science Agent for Jessamine Co provides tips why calcium is important in our diet and how to add calcium rich foods in our diets at any age.

Core Messages:

  • Osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to fractures, now affects approximately 10 million Americans and another 44 million are at risk. Even though the disease is more common in women, the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation states that 20% of the 10 million are men.
  • The genes inherited from your parents are 60 to 80 percent responsible for the health of your bones, but what you eat and the amount of time you spend exercising also play a major role. Aerobic and weight resistant exercise-walking, jogging, running, or weightlifting- are the best forms of physical activity for bone health. For best results, weight resistant exercises should be performed for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Regardless of age, everyone needs to include calcium rich foods in their diet. Calcium-rich foods, like dairy foods also include magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein and Vitamin D that work together to help build and protect bones.
  • At least three servings daily of calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt are needed daily to meet the calcium requirements for adults while children 8 years old and younger need 2 cups every day. One serving of dairy (300 mg calcium) is 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1 ½ ounces of cheese natural cheese or 2 oz of processed cheese, 4 T Parmesan cheese.
  • If individuals are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, there are non-dairy foods that are good sources of calcium. However, the amount that needs to be consumed to equal the 300 mg calcium contained in 1 cup of milk is usually more (exception is fortified soy milk). Other food sources of calcium include broccoli, greens, spinach (approx 1.5 cups), 3 ounces of salmon or sardines, or 1 cup of fortified orange juice.
  • Even though we know that we need to "drink our milk", most Americans consume less than the 3 daily servings of dairy. However, there are easy ways that we can we make our meals more calcium rich:
    • Breakfast-  prepare hot cereal with milk, top pancake with yogurt, add cereal to yogurt for a "grab and go
    • Lunch- prepare soups with milk vs water, add cheese to salads, yogurt as a dip or salad dressin
    • Dinner- top pasta dishes with cheese, finish entrees with lowfat toppings such as yogurt or cheese; serve milk as the beverage of choice? Parents can set the example
    • Snacks- mix yogurt with Dijon mustard for dipping pretzels/veggies; toss 2T Parmesan cheese with popcorn; fill ice trays with low fat choc or strawberry milk and serve with glasses of milk or make smoothies