When you hear the word “probiotics,” you probably think of your digestive system. These “good bacteria” help to maintain balance within the gut to improve digestive function, boost immunity, alleviate digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, and fight foodborne illnesses. But did you know that probiotics can contribute to bone health as well?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans are at risk of developing osteoporosis or are currently living with the condition. Approximately half of all women and one quarter of all men will experience a fracture due to osteoporosis, and nearly half of all Americans are expected to have low bone density by the year 2020.
Nutrition is a crucial component in preventing osteoporosis, and multiple studies have shown that probiotics can play an active role in preserving bone health (Source: CityWatch). Adding a healthy dose of probiotics to your diet through natural food sources and supplements can strengthen bones by:
- Increasing absorption of key nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium
- Reducing leaky gut and allergies
- Boosting immunity
- Improving or eliminating symptoms of lactose intolerance
- Enhancing mineral absorption by reducing the impact of dietary phytates
- Enhancing absorption of phytoestrogens
There is currently no recommended daily intake level for probiotics, but most supplements range from one billion to 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs). Grocers and pharmacies stock a wide variety of probiotic supplements that are available over-the-counter, but you can easily increase your probiotic intake by adding a variety of fermented foods to your diet (Source: Better Bones). Some probiotic-rich foods include:
- Yogurt with live and active cultures
Probiotic foods and supplements are generally safe, but use caution if you are pregnant or have compromised immunity. It is also wise to check with your doctor before adding probiotic supplements to your daily regimen to rule out any potential complications. Keep the lines of communication open with your primary care physician, and together you can decide on the right plan to keep your bones healthy and strong.