Friday, November 6, 2015

Eat Carrots and Tomatoes for Healthy Bones?

We all know about calcium for bone health. But did you know that tomatoes and carrots--especially when added to a healthy green salad--also help build healthy bones?

It is a given that calcium is essential for healthy bones. If you are a fan of organic veggies, you also know that leafy greens are rich in both calcium and the vitamin K the body needs to use the calcium provided by various foods. But did you know that eating tomatoes--and carrots--helps your body maintain the levels of vitamin K needed to manufacture the osteocalcin that helps bones absorb the calcium they need to stay strong?

The peculiar thing about vitamin K is that how much vitamin K you get from food isn't the only thing that determines how much vitamin K gets to your bones. Everybody benefits from eating lettuce and other leafy greens. But the body needs (1) lycopene (2) beta-carotene and (3) gamma-tocopherol to keep vitamin K in circulation.

Vitamin K has to have its cofactors. Lycopene is found in tomatoes. Beta-carotene is found in carrots. Gamma-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that most Americans get mostly from salad dressings. All three nutrients as well as vitamin K can only be absorbed into the bloodstream with a little help from fat, although as little as a teaspoon (5 ml or 5 grams) of fat with the salad is enough.

What are the implications for healthy eating from organic gardens? When you're enjoying tomatoes, eat a little salad, too. Or when you're making fresh salads from your organic lettuce, add a little carrot and a few slices of tomato. Building healthy bones isn't all about calcium. It takes a combination of healthy foods to give bones the boost they need to prevent fractures and breaks.

Photo credit: AlbertCahalan, via Wikimedia Commons.

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