/sites/assets/Assets/Article%20Images/healthy_food_milkjug.jpg?Width=970&Height=405

​Bones that rigid hard tissue that we are all very familiar with - play a critical role in giving our body form and shape.

Bones should last an entire lifetime. But, that is a challenge! Many older adults suffer from fractures simply because their bones have lost strength. This disease of brittle bones, also called 'osteoporosis' affects their mobility and quality of life.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes loss of bone mass resulting in bones that are brittle and liable to fracture. While osteoporosis affects both men and women, osteoporosis is more common among postmenopausal women.

With life expectancy much higher now, it makes good sense to invest in building up and maintaining bone strength today. Our bones have to last that much longer!

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular weight bearing exercises, supported by a well-balanced diet that provides sufficient calcium and vitamin D, goes a long way to help maintain bone strength of adults. So, read on to learn how you can cement your bone's density.

Eat a well-balanced diet

Everybody knows that calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. In reality, many nutrients work together to build and strengthen bones. Apart from calcium, nutrients that play critical roles in bone nutrition include protein, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins D, K and C.

On the other hand, eating too much protein and sodium leads to the loss of bone density. So, to achieve optimal bone strength, eat a well-balanced diet using the Healthy Diet Pyramid as your guide.

Ensure adequate calcium intake

Getting enough calcium is important regardless of how young or how old you are. Calcium helps build up bone from childhood right up to the age of 30 years, making them denser and stronger. Past the age of 30 years, getting enough calcium each day continues to be important as age slows down the loss of calcium from bones. Maintaining good bone health will help you continue to stand up straight and tall all throughout life.

Calcium plays many critical roles in the body and is an essential mineral for life and good health. Yet, many Singaporeans do not consume enough calcium and this puts individuals at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.

The richest food sources of calcium are dairy food such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. Other food that are good sources of calcium are fish with edible bones such as sardines and ikan bilis, tofu made with calcium salts, lentils, green leafy vegetables and calcium fortified food such as bread, biscuits and soybean milk. Eat a variety of these food to attain your daily calcium requirement each day.

Food Serving Size Calcium content (mg)
Dairy Products

High-calcium milk powder
Low-fat milk
Full-cream milk
Low-fat yoghurt
Low-fat cheese*

4 scoops (25 g)
1 glass (250ml)
1 glass (250ml)
1 carton (150g)
1 slice (20g)

500
380
300
240
200

Non-dairy foods

Canned sardine (with bones)
Dried ikan bilis (with bones)
Silken tofu
Tau kwa
Dhal (raw)
Baked beans, canned*
Kai lan, cooked
Spinach, cooked
Chye sim, cooked
Broccoli, cooked

1 fish (80g)
2 tablespoons (40g)
package (150g)
1 small cake (90g)
mug (50g)
can (210g)
mug (100 g)
mug (100 g)
mug (100 g)
mug (100 g)

270
270
100
150
85
110
195
140
140
50

Calcium-fortified products

High-calcium soybean milk
Enriched bread
Calcuim-fortified orange juice

1 glass (250ml)
2 slices (60 g)
1 serving (240 ml)

450
100
350

*item may be high in salt

Include enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium from your diet. Your body can make vitamin D when it is exposed to ultra violet (UVB) rays of the sun. Try to let the sun shine on your arms and legs twice a week. The best time to do so is anytime between 10am and 3 pm, for about 5 to 30 minutes. If you have paler skin, then just a little sunshine will do the trick, but if you have darker skin, stay out in the sunshine just a little longer to help your body make enough vitamin D.

To be certain to meet your nutrient goal, include eggs, liver and oily fish like salmon, cod and mackerel. Vitamin D fortified food include selected brands of milk, soymilk, ready-to-eat-cereal and margarine. It is best to get all your calcium and vitamin D from food and sun exposure alone, but if you are unable to get enough of either nutrient, consider a calcium supplement of up to 800mg, or a vitamin D supplement of up to 200 IU (5 g).