Bone Up on Bone Health
Sodium: Every 500 mg of sodium causes post-menopausal women to lose an extra 10 mg of calcium. Sodium sources include salt, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), MSG (monosodium glutamate), and soy sauce.

Alcohol: Alcohol interferes with the absorption of both calcium and vitamin D, and increases parathyroid hormone levels, which in turn reduces the body's calcium reserves.

Stress and Depression: Higher cortisol levels, often found in depressed patients, may contribute to bone loss. Cortisol is a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids destroy osteoblasts (bone-building cells).

Your age determines your daily calcium needs:

9-18 years: 1,300 mg

19-50 years: 1,000 mg

Over 50 years: 1,200 mg

Bone is not solely dependent on calcium, however. The best program consists of a cocktail with many minerals and nutrients - for example, magnesium, vitamin D and boron can work together to maintain a strong skeleton. Vitamin D is freely available from sunlight during the warmer months, but fish, milk, and some soy beverages provide the vitamin all year round.

The latest nutritional research points to three other important team players - strontium, vitamin K, and collagen. Be sure to include mineral-rich foods in your diet daily, including raw nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, yogurt, broccoli, and seaweed (a source of over 60 minerals).

With age, bone loss is inevitable. It is important to note the impact we may have in influencing the health of our bones and the onset and pace of osteoporosis, namely in our choice of minerals, nutrients, medicine, diet and physical activity.

(Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer are the co-founders of NaturallySavvy.com, a website that educates people on the benefits of living a natural, organic and green lifestyle. For more information and to sign up for their newsletter, visit www.NaturallySavvy.com.)