Flourish With Fran – Feb 2021

Show your bones a little love this month.

Fran Vuolo

Bone health is not a very exciting topic, but it is an important one. Our bone is a living tissue that plays a structural role in the body. The old bone cells are replaced by new ones throughout our lives, gaining strength from calcium and phosphorus. Our bone mass peaks in our mid-20s, where there is a period of consolidation, until we reach our 40s, where bone loss exceeds bone formation, and our bone mass gradually decreases. Taking advantage of this ‘window of opportunity’ to build on bone mass is important as it becomes increasingly difficult to build upon afterwards. Excessive loss of bone tissues can lead to osteoporosis (fragile bones) and can lead to increased risk of fractures and mobility problems. 

Seaweed, full of iodine

Maintaining healthy bones comes from a continuous active lifestyle. Plus, a balanced diet rich in calcium (dairy products, white, brown, and wholemeal flour, green leafy vegetables, and fish with the bones). Vitamin D (sunlight, supplements, egg yolk, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified plant-based dairy alternatives & oily fish), Vitamin K (green leafy vegetables, meat, and dairy products). 

As we have an ageing population in the UK, maintaining bone health into older life is important to reduce risk of falls and fractures. A recent study showed that food-based interventions reduced the risks of falls and improved mobility in 813 care residents, with a 42% reduction in the number of hospitalised falls after a year of protein, calcium, and vitamin D supplementation. Suggesting that maintaining an adequate diet with these key nutrients can improve mobility in older adults. Alongside, diet and exercise, maintaining a healthy bodyweight can reduce risk of osteoarthritis and protect joint health.

Why you should care about iodine.

Iodine is a trace element present in the human body, involved in production of thyroid hormones, in the thyroid gland. These hormones play an important role many body processes including growth, metabolism, and development in pregnancy, particularly brain and organ development.

Soya Beans

In the UK, it is believed that the population is mild to moderately deficient. With teenage girls and young women being at increased risk of low iodine levels. It is recommended that everyone over 12 years old has 150ug a day. If pregnant or breastfeeding, this rises to 250ug a day. Iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid enlargement and goitre (swelling of the thyroid glands) which in severe cases can lead to difficulty swallowing and breathing. However, this is rare in the UK.

A severe deficit in iodine during early growth and development can lead to the slowing down of metabolism, and alterations in normal brain development.  Iodine is required from the very early stages of pregnancy, so it is recommended to have adequate levels in your diet months before getting pregnant. This is important if you are of child-bearing age.

Sources of iodine include milk and dairy products, eggs, fish, soya, and fortified plant-based alternative dairy products. Iodine supplements and seaweed are rich sources but can provide high doses and this is best avoided, as this can lead to thyroid problems. Supplementation should be discussed with a doctor and healthcare professional.

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