Everyone knows that eating a healthy diet is imperative for living a healthy life. From the time we are very young, we learn about the importance of nutrition. Many of the advice is pretty practical; for example, eat healthy foods if you want to feel healthy. Unhealthy foods, such as French fries, donuts, and candy, are more likely to make you feel sick and have a long-term, negative impact on your health over time. You need to be getting certain nutrients through your diet so that your body can function optimally. Your nutrition impacts all parts of your body, and the spine is no exception. When you follow a healthy diet, you can rest assured that your spine is getting the nutrients it needs to function optimally. When you are eating for a healthy spine, there are certain nutrients you need to keep in mind.
It’s probably not a shock that calcium makes this list. You know from the “Got Milk?” advertisements that calcium is important for bone health, and in fact, calcium is the single most important nutrient for the health of your spine. Calcium is essential for maintaining bone mass over the course of your lifetime, and given how your bones become more brittle with age, it’s especially important for older adults to prioritize it. Calcium also helps to prevent the onset of osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones and often results in spinal fractures.
To ensure you are getting enough calcium in your diet, you can eat the following calcium-rich foods:
- Dark, leafy vegetables —broccoli, kale, spinach
- Dairy — yogurt, milk, cheese
- Legumes — tofu, black beans, peanuts
- Fish — sardines, salmon
Vitamin D is the second most important mineral for spine health because it is essentially calcium’s date to every party: without vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed by the body properly. Therefore, as much as you are prioritizing calcium, you should prioritize vitamin D. People, particularly in the northern hemisphere, often have vitamin D deficiencies. Fortunately, you can still get plenty of vitamin D through your diet and lifestyle choices, or take a supplement if recommended by your doctor.
Here are some ways you can get vitamin D in your daily life:
- Eat egg yolks
- Drink vitamin D-fortified milk
- Spend 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen
- Take a supplement
This macro-mineral is essential to musculoskeletal health. Magnesium plays an important role in muscle relaxation and contraction, and also helps with bone density and muscle mass. In addition, magnesium helps your body use protein to its best advantage.
Magnesium is found in many foods, including:
- Whole grains — brown rice, whole wheat bread
- Beans — black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans
- Fruits — avocado, bananas, kiwis
- Vegetables — kale, broccoli, spinach
- Seeds — sunflower seeds, flax seeds
Iron is essential to spine health because the role it plays in myoglobin production, which is part of the muscles that support the spine. In addition, iron helps all your body’s cells be healthy because it enhances their ability to receive oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide.
Iron-rich foods include:
- Red meat
- Dark, leafy vegetables
Vitamin A is an important antioxidant that aids your immune system. Vitamin A helps your spine by helping your body to form bones and repair torn tissue, and also plays an important role in helping the body use protein, just like magnesium. That being said, it’s important to not eat too much vitamin A; ironically, it can cause bone fractures in excess. You can get the vitamin A you need through eating beta-carotene-rich foods, which the body converts into vitamin A.
Some vitamin-A rich foods include:
- Dairy products — eggs, milk, cheese
- Orange fruits — oranges, tangerines, apricots
- Vegetables — carrots, sweet potatoes, green peppers, spinach
Vitamin C is important for your spine because it aids in the production of collagen, the building block of tissue in the body. This means that it is imperative for healing any spinal injuries and generally keeps the area strong and healthy to support the spine. Vitamin C can be found in many whole foods, including:
- Fruit — oranges, strawberries, grapefruits, kiwis, tomatoes
- Vegetables — sweet potatoes, spinach, peppers, broccoli
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the health of bone marrow. In addition, B12 is important for helping the body to grow and function optimally. You can only find vitamin B12 in animal products, such as:
- Meat — red meat, fish, liver
- Dairy — yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese
At ClinTech Center for Spine Health, we want to do everything in our power to help you have the healthiest spine possible. We hope you keep these important nutrients in mind when choosing what to eat so you can ensure you are getting everything you need for a healthy spine. If you’re looking for an orthopedic doctor in Johnstown, contact us!