October 12th through the 20th is Bone and Joint Health Awareness Week. Knowing how to strengthen and protect your bones will help prevent injury, falls and chronic pain.

The building blocks of strong bones are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium supports the structure of your teeth and bones while vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. Though these nutrients are important to consume early on in life, they are also important as you age. Consuming plenty of calcium and vitamin D can help slow the progression of bone diseases like osteoporosis.

Adults under 50 should consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 200 IUs (international units) of vitamin D per day. Adults over 50 should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium and at least 400 IUs of vitamin D per day. The following foods can help you easily incorporate more calcium and vitamin D into your diet every day:

Milk

The first and most obvious choice to getting enough calcium, an 8-ounce cup of milk, whether skim, low fat or whole, contains 300 milligrams of calcium.

Yogurt

For those who aren’t big fans of milk, a cup of yogurt contains the same amount of calcium as an 8-ounce cup of milk.

Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon contain high amounts of vitamin D, which will help your body absorb calcium. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have also been shown to help build strong bones. If you don’t like fish, try a fish oil supplement.

Greens

Calcium is often found in vegetables, as well. Dark, leafy greens like collard greens and spinach are great sources of calcium. One cup of cooked greens has around 200 milligrams of calcium.

Fortified cereal and juice

You can find many cereals and juices in the grocery store that are fortified with vitamin D for strong bones. Many of these products contain up to 25 percent of your daily vitamin D.

Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D for strong bones is essential throughout life. In addition to incorporating these foods into your normal diet, you can also catch some rays for some extra vitamin D (while wearing sunscreen, of course), and integrate regular weight-bearing exercise into your routine to help strengthen your bones and joints.

For more information on building strong bones and preventing pain, call the pain specialists at Cedar Rapids Pain Associates today at (319) 540-8251 to schedule an appointment.