Eating for a Healthy Spine

A healthy diet is critical to maintaining all of your body’s systems, and that includes your spine.  By choosing foods with the correct balance of vitamins and minerals, you can ensure your spine will be in good shape, making you less susceptible to injuries that cause pain in the neck and back.  The team of physicians at Resurgens Spine Center knows how important it is for you to pick the right foods to maintain the health of your spine.  Here is a list of the nutrients your spine needs and the foods that will provide them.

Calcium

When you think of bones, calcium should come to mind immediately.  It’s the primary building block of your bone tissue and it helps keep your vertebraestrong.  As we age, decreasing bone density becomes a problem and can make all your bones more prone to fractures.  That’s why you need to get plenty of calcium in your diet, to provide the raw materials your body needs to build strong bones.

Dairy products are a good place to start when looking for foods high in calcium.  Milk, cheese, and yogurt have plenty of calcium, but other foods contain lots of this crucial nutrient as well.  Dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale can give you a boost of calcium, as can peanuts and almonds.

Vitamin D

Without Vitamin D, your body can’t absorb calcium as efficiently.  So you could say you can’t have one without the other!  Most people are deficient in both calcium and Vitamin D, and this combination makes for brittle bones and increased risk of back problems like bone fractures.

You can find plenty of Vitamin D in egg yolks and fish oil.  If you’re not a seafood person, there are fish oil supplements that can provide a boost to your intake of Vitamin D.  Another good place to look is in milk, just make sure you’re buying “Vitamin D” Milk, which is fortified to aid in the absorption of the calcium that occurs in it naturally.

Iron

All the cells in your body need iron to help them exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide, which is disposed of by your red blood cells.  Iron is also crucial for the production of myoglobin, which builds strong muscles.  Building strong muscles around your spine will help support it and prevent injuries.

Iron-rich foods include red meat, liver, poultry, and pork.  Once again, spinach, broccoli, kale make the list, giving you a dose of the iron you need.  You can also find lots of iron in shellfish, beans, and eggs.

Magnesium

This mineral helps your muscles contract and relax properly, and it also maintains a healthy bone density.  The combination of healthy back muscles and strong bones will prevent you from having back problems.

Whole grains are the go-to food for magnesium.  Try switching white bread for whole-grain types for a boost of magnesium.  Some other good sources of magnesium include nuts, bananas, avocados, and—you guessed it—spinach, kale, and broccoli.

Vitamin A

This is an antioxidant that keeps your immune system healthy and helps your body repair damaged tissues.  It also is a component in bone formation.

Beef, liver, and dairy products are rich in Vitamin A, as are eggs.  You can also find this vitamin in orange fruits and carrots.  And of course, our old friend spinach makes and appearance on this list as well.

Vitamin C

Another powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C is important to the formation of collagen, which is a major component in ligaments, tendons, and vertebral discs.  A diet high in Vitamin C will help your body repair these tissues that support your spine and keep your neck and back in good shape.

Of course, citrus fruits are a good standby for getting Vitamin C, and it can also be found in tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes.  And here’s a surprise—leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli are packed with Vitamin C as well.

So it looks like Popeye was right—if you want a strong body (and a strong spine), make sure you always eat your spinach!