I’m a woman getting to be around the age where I care about my bones. The irony? Lactose intolerance appears to be another milestone that comes with this age! It’s not so bad that I can never have dairy, but let’s just say that if I ever do anything to offend you, you can seek your revenge by sending me an extra-cheese pizza. Recovering from a case of the milk ‘urps from my breakfast latte, in fact, I was very happy to see non-dairy sources of calcium covered on my favorite TV doctor show today.
If you’ve shied away from strength training because you think it’s going to blow up your arms, making you look like a cartoon-character bodybuilder, you’re not alone. Many women avoid using weights because they don’t want to get “buff.” But the truth is, adding strength and resistance training to your workout routine comes with a number of benefits, with toned, attractive muscles being just one of many.
There’s a popular commercial with the slogan “Every Body Needs Milk.” We have a different version when it comes to your health, particularly for women: Every Body Needs Calcium. However, your choices for that mineral range from dairy (yup, as in milk and a cookie!) to certain greens to supplements to calcium-enriched soy milk.
Q: What are joints?
A: Joints are the areas where your bones meet. They allow your body to move. Without joints, you wouldn’t be able to walk, sit or raise your arms. At the ends of your bones are little “caps” of cartilage, a tough, smooth tissue that provides cushioning and allows movement. There is also a pool of slippery fluid, called synovial fluid, which prevents friction. Together with tendons and ligaments, these make up your joints.
Q: What causes joint pain?
A: Joint pain, which can present itself as stiffness, discomfort, soreness or swelling, affects men and women of all ages. It’s not a “normal” part of aging, as many people believe. Joint pain can be caused by a number of factors such as overuse, strain, injury and medical conditions. With certain conditions, cartilage can be broken down over time, leaving bones to rub together and causing severe pain.
Q: What can be done to support joint health?
A: There are a number of nutrients that support joint health. The most popular joint health supplements include glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both normally found in cartilage, but levels decrease with age. Chondroitin helps cartilage retain water. They can be taken in supplement form and have been found in several studies to help support joint health. MSM is a sulfur-containing compound, found in raw vegetables such as broccoli, red peppers and Brussels sprouts, that supports connective tissue health.
Q: Are there foods I can eat to support my joints?
A: A healthy diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, manganese, omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants is especially good for bone and joint health. Foods containing these nutrients include: salmon, cod, flax seed, tofu, nuts, whole grains, dairy products, soy milk, dark green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits. The following foods are also a natural source of glucosamine: shrimp, lobster and crab shells, sports drinks and sweet almond oil.
Q: How much glucosamine/chondroitin is recommended to best maintain joint health?
A: According the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1,500 mg of glucosamine (taken in three 500 mg doses daily) and 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate are the amounts used in a successful study.
When it comes to minerals, calcium rocks! This crucial nutrient is known for its role in supporting healthy, hardy bones and teeth, so it’s no surprise that calcium supplements are abundant.
But is yours made from… actual rocks?
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