Health & Fitness

3 Little-Known Ways to Boost Bone Health

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When you think of maintaining strong bones you probably think of eating a diet high in calcium and getting regular exercise, but you may not think of eating grapefruit.

But grapefruit may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to maintaining a strong spine and other bones throughout the body, as well as reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis. That’s because grapefruit is high in some critical bone-building nutrients. And, that’s great news considering that one in two women over the age of 50 will experience a bone fracture in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.

According to an animal study by Texas A & M University eating grapefruit or grapefruit juice on a daily basis significantly increases calcium and magnesium absorption and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Published in the medical journal Nutrition, researchers found that the addition of grapefruit pulp in the animals’ diets reduced the rate at which bones broke down while also boosting their mineral content. Those that ate the grapefruit also demonstrated stronger bones.

But grapefruit doesn’t just boost mineral absorption, it is also high in the plant nutrients known as lycopene and naringin which can be helpful to bone health but also boost overall health as well. The nutrient lycopene, which gives pink grapefruit their signature pinkish-reddish color, may help to prevent prostate and breast cancers as well as reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis, asthma, hypertension and heart disease. The nutrient naringin has been found to reduce the risk of cancer, lower high cholesterol levels, aid eye disorders in diabetics and help heal damage from brain injury or stroke. Grapefruit is also high in vitamin C and is a good source of vitamin A, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and the mineral copper.

There are other little-known ways to boost your bone health, including adding the herbs dandelion and horsetail to your daily diet. Next to cabbage, dandelion shoots (the stems, leaves, and flowers) have the highest amount of the bone-building mineral, boron. According to renowned botanist and author of The Green Pharmacy, James Duke, PhD, ten grams (just under seven tablespoons) of dried dandelion shoots provides over 1 milligram of boron and 200 milligrams of calcium.

While that might sound like a lot of dandelion, keep in mind that drinking it as a bone-building tea or addition to a smoothie makes it much easier to ingest. Of course, choose dandelion from areas that are not sprayed with pesticides and are away from high-traffic areas.

The herb horsetail also has an important role to play in building bone health. Because of horsetail’s long-standing reputation for strengthening bones, researchers studied its effects to build bone and prevent infections that can be linked to bone breaks and osteoporosis. Published in the journal Cell Proliferation, scientists found that horsetail improved the ability of osteoblasts—cells that make bone by laying down a matrix to which minerals can be added to form bone—to build bone while reducing the likelihood of infection. The scientists concluded that horsetail extract may be a good bone regeneration strategy.

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