3 Essential Nutrients for Spine Health

If you’re dealing with back pain, you might be wondering what you can do to find relief. These days, there are a lot of different treatments and therapies available. But did you know that making sure you’re getting enough of certain nutrients is also important for spine health? Here’s a look at three essential nutrients for keeping your spine healthy and strong: calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium. While these nutrients cannot heal spinal problems, they can help to improve your bone health and prevent additional problems.

Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth – without it, our bones would be weak and brittle.

Flying foods rich in calcium. Healthy eating

Everyone knows that calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth – it’s probably one of the most basic tidbits we’ve heard since grade school! But without proper intake of this essential mineral, our bones would be weak, brittle, and potentially more susceptible to fracture. This is because calcium is necessary for maintaining bone structure and building new bone. While it has been traditionally recommended to consume 1,000 mg-1,200 mg of calcium daily, a new study shows that less may be beneficial.

Luckily, there are plenty of good sources for calcium; some of these include:

Food GroupFoodServing SizeEstimated Calcium (mg)
ProduceCollard greens, frozen8 oz360
ProduceBroccoli rabe8 oz200
ProduceKale, frozen8 oz180
ProduceSoy Beans, green, boiled8 oz175
ProduceBok Choy, cooked, boiled8 oz160
ProduceFigs, dried2 figs65
ProduceBroccoli, fresh, cooked8 oz60
ProduceOranges1 whole55
SeafoodSardines, canned with bones3 oz325
SeafoodSalmon, canned with bones3 oz180
SeafoodShrimp, canned3 oz125
DairyRicotta, part-skim4 oz335
DairyYogurt, plain, low-fat6 oz310
DairyMilk, skim, low-fat, whole8 oz300
DairyYogurt with fruit, low-fat6 oz260
DairyMozzarella, part-skim1 oz210
DairyCheddar1 oz205
DairyGreek yogurt6 oz200
DairyAmerican cheese1 oz195
DairyFeta cheese4 oz140
DairyCottage cheese4 oz125
Fortified foodAlmond milk, rice milk or soy milk, fortified8 oz300
Fortified foodTofu, prepared with calcium4 oz205
Fortified foodOrange juice fortified with calcium4 oz150
Fortified foodCereal, fortified8 oz100-1,000

Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is necessary for proper bone growth. Good sources of Vitamin D include:

vitamin D. A set of foods with vitamin D on a blue background

Vitamin D is a vital component when it comes to healthy bones. Not only does it help the body absorb calcium, an essential mineral for strong bones, but it can also aid in proper bone growth and development. Fortunately, there are various ways to obtain Vitamin D through our diets and lifestyle habits. Eating foods rich in the vitamin like fatty fish and egg yolks, or taking supplements, go a long way in ensuring that our bodies get the necessary amount they need. In addition to that, spending time outside can give us a natural boost of Vitamin D as well. It is recommended to get about 600-800 mg of vitamin D daily and avoid consuming more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily, including any supplements.

Some food sources of vitamin D include: 

FoodInternational Units (IU)
Salmon, pink, cooked444
Tuna fish, canned in oil, drained229
Sardines, canned in oil, drained165
Milk, nonfat, fortified116
Orange juice, fortified100
Egg, whole, cooked, scrambled44
Cheddar cheese7
Frozen yogurt, flavor other than chocolate5

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including those needed for healthy bones and muscles.

Inscription Mg, ingredients and products containing magnesium and dietary fiber, healthy nutrition, wholemeal pasta, sunflower, buckwheat, oatmeal, brown rice, linseed, hazelnut, almonds, chocolate

Magnesium is an essential nutrient for overall health, but especially for maintaining strong bones and muscles. It plays a critical role in over 300 biochemical reactions occurring in the body and helps our bodies to absorb calcium and vitamin D, which are also essential for bone health. As part of a balanced diet, magnesium can help support healthy skeletal structure and minimize injuries of the spine. It is recommended to get at least 125-600 mg of magnesium daily, depending on your needs.

Some food sources of magnesium include:

FoodServing Sizemg of Magnesium per Serving
Pumpkin seed – kernels1 oz168
Almonds, dry roasted1 oz80
Spinach, boiled½ cup78
Cashews, dry roasted1 oz74
Pumpkin seeds in shell1 oz74
Peanuts, oil roasted¼ cup63
Cereal, shredded wheat2 large biscuits61
Soymilk, plain or vanilla1 cup61
Black beans, cooked½ cup60
Edamame, shelled, cooked½ cup50
Dark chocolate -60-69% cacoa1 oz50
Peanut butter, smooth2 tablespoons49
Bread, whole wheat2 slices46
Avocado, cubed1 cup44
Potato, baked with skin3.5 oz43
Rice, brown, cooked½ cup42
Yogurt, plain, low fat8 oz42
Breakfast cereals fortified10% fortification40
Oatmeal, instant1 packet36
Kidney beans, canned½ cup35
Banana1 medium32
Cocoa powder– unsweetened1 tablespoon27
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed3 oz26
Milk1 cup24–27
Halibut, cooked3 oz24
Raisins½ cup23
Chicken breast, roasted3 oz22
Beef, ground, 90% lean3 oz20
Broccoli, chopped & cooked½ cup12
Rice, white, cooked½ cup10
Apple1 medium9
Carrot, raw1 medium7

Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food 

In Conclusion

As we grow older, it becomes vitally important to ensure that our bodies get the necessary amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium – all three of which play an essential role in maintaining bone health. The spine is no exception – not only does it benefit from having strong bones to protect it, but ensuring that your diet contains enough of these nutrients can help minimize the risk of age-related spine problems. Vitamin D helps you absorb more calcium to strengthen bones, and magnesium aides in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones. Therefore, eating a balanced diet rich in these three nutrients is a great way to ensure optimal spine health as you age.

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