This March is National Nutrition Month. Are you getting the nutrients that your body needs?
Your own skeleton is a living, changing structure. Every day, your body breaks down old bone cells and builds new ones. It's a complex process requiring lots of vitamins and minerals. This includes the old standbys calcium and vitamin D - plus a new player on the scene, vitamin K.
Vitamin K is best known for helping blood clots. Now, scientists believe it may play a key role in bone health.
Several studies have found people with low vitamin K levels had thinner bones. They're at risk for the bone disease osteoporosis and fractures in the hip or other parts of the skeleton.
However, studies in which people were told to take vitamin K supplements have had mixed results. The latest evidence suggests this nutrient doesn't make your bones thicker or denser, but might still prevent fractures. Scientists think it may work to help support bone structure in some other way.
Low vitamin K levels are rare. You're more likely to run short if you're older than 65, live in a group care facility, drink large quantities of alcohol, or have a condition like celiac disease that interferes with how your body absorbs vitamins. Experts say that specific recommendations for vitamin K depend on age, gender, and other factors, such as pregnancy. In most cases, eating foods rich in vitamin K is enough to boost levels. These include:
Doctors don't recommend supplements unless blood tests show you're K-deficient. Get checked if you have symptoms of low levels, such as unusual bruising or bleeding. Be careful if you take the blood thinner warfarin. Vitamin K can affect how this drug works.
Tried-and-true methods for boosting bone strength include:
Also, keep your bones in mind when planning your gym routine. Weight-bearing workouts - such as walking, lifting, and dancing - do the most to build skeletal strength.
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When a grumbling in your belly bothers you, try snacking on yogurt. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found low-fat yogurt gave people a fuller feeling than a fruit drink. This was true for spoonable and drinkable varieties. The protein in yogurt could explain the filling effect.
Other studies have shown that yogurt can help fight ulcer-causing bacteria in the stomach and intestines. In addition, there's some evidence that yogurt aids digestion.
Yogurt is also good for you because it supplies bone-building calcium. One cup of low-fat yogurt packs 300 milligrams of calcium - at least one-fourth of what most people need each day.
To get the most benefits, choose regular yogurt over frozen yogurt. It has more nutrients. Another tip: Plain yogurt mixed with chives, dill, lemon juice, and low-fat mayo makes a tangy, creamy topping for veggies.