14. Sip water or iced tea instead of soda. A study out of Tufts University in Boston found that women who drank at least one 12-ounce cola every day for four years had up to 5 percent lower bone mineral density than women who drank fewer than one a week. All the women were drinking the same amount of milk, so researchers think the phosphoric acid in soda affects the body’s absorption of calcium.
15. Figure out how much sodium you’re consuming a day to see if you need more calcium. If you’re at or below 2,100 milligrams of sodium (slightly less than the recommended limit) you’re probably okay with about 1,200 mg calcium a day. But if you’re getting more sodium than that — and most Americans do — increase your calcium intake. An Australian study found that the more sodium 124 postmenopausal women urinated (an indication of how much they took in) the more bone they lost in their hips (where their bone density was measured). You don’t have to analyze your pee; just take a day and pay attention to all the processed foods you eat (where most sodium is found). Add up the milligrams to get a sense of where you are, sodium-wise. By the way, if you’re using the saltshaker, one teaspoon contains 2,000 mg sodium.
16. Take the right kind of calcium at the right time. Calcium citrate, for instance, is absorbed more easily on an empty stomach, so take it before meals. Calcium carbonate, the cheapest and most common type of supplement, is absorbed best when taken with food, particularly acidic foods such as citrus juice or fruit.
17. Hang room-darkening shades in your bedroom. You’ll sleep much better without ambient light, and sleep is important for bone. Much of bone remodeling, in which old bone is replaced by new, occurs at night during sleep. If you’re not sleeping enough, just when do you think your body is going to have the time to perform this valuable job?
18. Walk for 30 minutes a day. Most women lose 3-6 percent of their bone mass every year during the five years before and after menopause. But women who regularly walked (about 7.5 miles a week) took four to seven years longer to lose the same amount of bone as women who didn’t walk at all. Walking briskly, you should be able to cover two miles in 30 minutes; walk for 30 minutes just four days a week and you’ll get the 7.5 miles in. Add an extra day, though, just for good measure!
19. Start a vegetable and flower garden this spring. Researchers at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville found yard work (and weight training) were highly associated with reducing the risk for osteoporosis in 3,310 women ages 50 and older. Turns out that pushing a lawn mower, thrusting a shovel into the ground, lifting heavy wheelbarrows filled with mulch, raking, leaning, carrying, and pulling weeds are all great weight-bearing exercises. So which would you rather do? Lift weights in some stinky gym, or dig in the dirt to plant and harvest your own ruby-red tomatoes?
20. Add nonfat powdered milk to soups, casseroles, baked goods and drinks. It’s an easy, unobtrusive way to sneak more calcium into your diet, particularly if you don’t like drinking milk. Here’s a great recipe that does just that:
Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 medium ripe banana 1/3 cup fat-free powdered milk 1/3 cup dark brown sugar 5 tablespoons Smart Balance spread 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce 2 eggs (organic omega-3) 1 1/2 cups rolled oats 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup slivered almonds 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli)
1. Preheat oven to 360°F. Grind the almonds in a coffee grinder to a fine powder.
2. Place first five ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fluffy and creamy. Add eggs and beat again until smooth. The dough will seem liquid and not compact, but that’s okay — that’s how it’s supposed to be.
3. Add in rolled oats, flour, ground almonds, and baking soda and beat until well blended. Mix in chocolate chips. Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes.