I Have a Bone to Pick with Supplements
1) Sesame Tamari, serves 1 (adapted from Diana Stobo)
3 c bite-sized organic kale pieces from about 10 medium sized leaves, stemmed and torn
1 t dark sesame oil
2 t tamari (or soy sauce if you’re not gluten free)
1 t rice wine vinegar
1 t sesame seeds
1/2 t chia seeds
1/2 t ginger, minced (optional)
Combine all ingredients in bowl. Toss leaves until evenly and fully coated. Let sit a few minutes before eating as dressing becomes absorbed into leaves.
3 c bite-sized organic kale pieces from about 10 medium-sized leaves, stemmed and torn
1 T tahini
1 T miso paste
1 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t ginger, minced
1-2 T water
To make dressing, combine pastes, lemon juice, garlic and ginger; mix well. Add water until consistency is creamy. Toss with kale.
Who wants to be dense? I do…in my bones that is. I’ve been a dairy lover my whole life and thought that was the key to bone health. When I turned 45 and learned I was going through crazy hormonal shifts, I had my first bone density test and discovered that my bones were thinning. What!? Did I miss out on important years of supplementing vitamins and minerals? Was it the antibiotics I took for years, my coffee addiction, my thin teenage frame? Could it be, in part, due to the dairy foods which I now learned create an acidic environment, causing our bones to leach out neutralizing calcium into our bloodstream? For a quick fix, my doctor prescribed a bisphonsphanate (drugs like Fosomax and Boniva). After online research, I learned they can paradoxically yield dense, but more brittle bones–actually putting them at risk of fracture. Healthy bones are dense and supple, not brittle. Next option, please. My doctor suggested 1200 mg of calcium pill supplements daily. I added my own supplement cocktail of complementary vitamins which help anchor calcium to bone: D3, vitamin K, and magnesium. Fast forward six years. My bone density was slightly worse. And, interestingly, my fingernails–a clue to bone health according to Ayurvedic medicine–were peeling and splitting.
Gluten and Osteopenia This is where gluten came in to my story. By researching my condition (osteopenia, or thinning bones) online, I discovered a frequent connection to gluten intolerance. Gluten is linked to many other symptoms as well including inflamed joints and muscles which I also had. First step: eliminate gluten. Fast forward one year of gluten-free living, and my nails…were still a mess. To make matters more complicated, published research at that time (http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20100729/study-calcium-may-increase-heart-attack-risk) found calcium supplements can cause heart attacks. What’s a girl to do?
Food Supplements Coincidentally, I saw a segment on split nails on the Today Show and learned a simple solution…kale. It’s high in vitamin K, calcium and magnesium among others. Enter the Mighty Asian Kale Salad, recipe above. I ate it three times a week or more for the next month. It did the trick! My nails were suddenly strong and gorgeous. This was so encouraging that I started “supplementing” naturally and learned that dark green leafy veggies, red cabbage, and sesame are some of the best providers of bone-building nutrients, not to mention the many other benefits they offer (protein, other vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients with antioxidant power), except for vitamin D3. D3, and not just any D, is key to bone health. A simple blood test will tell you whether you are vitamin-D deficient. While sunshine and milk are both good sources of D, it is important to take a high quality D3 supplement to get the 40+ IU that we need. (Note: The jury is still out on whether it’s smart and safe to take up to 2000 IU daily which some experts advise.) Here, a few of my favorite foods with awesome bone benefits:
Daily Value of Raw, Chopped Veggies, and Key Ingredients in Recipes Above
Calcium Vitamin K Magnesium
1 c kale 9% 684% 6%
1 c broccoli 4% 116% 5%
1 c spinach 3% 181% 6%
1 c watercress 4% 106% 2%
1 c red cabbage* 4% 42% 4%
1 c lemon juice 2% 0% 4%
1 c miso 16% 101% 33%
1 T tamari 0% 0% 2%
1 T ginger 1% 0% 2%
1 T tahini 6% 0% 4%
1 oz sesame seeds 140% 0% 126%
1 oz chia seeds 18% 0% 0%
*My favorite way to eat cabbage: raw sauerkraut which has the added benefit of being fermented; fermented foods are great for restoring healthy bacteria in our digestive systems.
Sources 1. Check out this awesome nutrition source from Self Magazine where you can learn all the other benefits of these and other vegetables: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2
2. And take a look here for more info on bone-friendly and bone-leaching foods: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/12-foods-with-super-healing-powers.html?cid=Facebook_12-foods-with-super-healing-powers
Next Steps My next two-year bone follow-up is this spring. We’ll see if this dietary change has improved my bones. In the meantime, I won’t tell you to stop taking vitamins. You’ll need to make an educated choice for yourself. However, from what I’ve seen so far with my own body, and what I’ve deciphered from many conflicting, even contradictory voices out there, we absorb vitamins and minerals best from real food, or if necessary, from food-grade supplements.