Healthy diet is important to maintain good health, to prevent chronic diseases, and to overall sense of wellbeing and vitality.
Nutrition plays a crucial role in processes connected to bone formation and maintenance of bone mineral density. The amount of calcium in the body is subject to a dynamic balancing process, including calcium levels in food consumed, the ability of the intestines to absorb it, and its secretion levels through the urine. All these factors influence the biological availability of calcium for the benefit of bone formation and the prevention of bone loss.
The process of bone formation reaches its peak during the first three decades of life. Diet rich in calcium during this period is highly important to achieve an optimal bone mass. Later in life, adequate dietary calcium supplementation is necessary for maintaining that optimal bone mass and for bone loss prevention.
Milk and dairy are considered the most readily available source of calcium in the Western diet. The remaining calcium is usually derived from leafy vegetables, dried fruits, tahini and soy. Calcium from most plants is less absorbable in the human body than that from dairy products. In addition, a small portion of the daily calcium consumption comes from drinking water (tap and bottled).
Most foods are poor in calcium, therefore it may be difficult to achieve the required amount of calcium on a daily basis, even with a good and balanced diet. Attention should be paid to the fact that some of the calcium-rich foods, such as raw tahini, almonds and sardines, are also rich in calories and fat, and therefore it is advised to limit their consumption.
Calcium from diet is not fully absorbed by the body. Calcium-rich foods such as legumes, broccoli, spinach, leeks, parsley and green cabbage contain additional nutrients affecting intestinal acidity, and thus reducing calcium-absorption in the body. Calcium absorption rate ranges between 15%-70% of the amounts present in a particular food. Calcium absorption potential depends on the overall food ingredients, but is also influenced by various physiological and hormonal factors, such as age, vitamin D, stomach acidity and pregnancy. Therefore, calcium absorption potential and its biological availability are no-less significant factors than the original calcium content in food.
Strong bones are vital to healthy life and life quality in advanced age. Therefore, it is essential to keep a diet rich in calcium early in life and if needed, to consume calcium supplements in order to achieve an optimal bone mass, which will be used as a bone reservoir later in life. An optimal bone condition has a direct influence on reducing the likelihood of bone fractures later in life.