Food For Healthy Bones

Irma Jennings - INHC - Holistic Bone Coach

Why Chocolate Is Good For Your Bones

May 8, 2014
Irma Jennings

Eating chocolate is almost a spiritual experience for me.  I turn it into a meditation.  I sit down.  I close my eyes. I place one square of dark chocolate on my tongue.  I don’t chew.  I just let the chocolate take its own good time to melt into my body.  I taste the bitterness and the sweetness.

But I really love chocolate because it's so good to my bones.

It’s a great way to treat yourself, take a break, relieve stress, and just relax.

But I really love chocolate because it’s so good to my bones.

Magnesium Boosts Bone Density

Bone density and magnesium go hand in hand.  Studies find a significant association between the two.[i]  But here’s the thing.

The magnesium content of your bones decreases as you age.[ii]  In addition, sugar and alcohol cause you to lose magnesium through your urine.

Without enough magnesium, bone nutrients like calcium and vitamin D can’t do their jobs.  Your body needs magnesium to convert vitamin D into its active form.  If it’s not activated it can’t turn on your body’s calcium absorption.[iii]

And you also need magnesium to stimulate the hormone calcitonin.  That helps draw calcium out of the blood and soft tissues and put it back into the bones. Too much calcium floating around in your blood and tissues can increase your risk of arthritis, heart attack, and kidney stones, as well as osteoporosis.[iv]

Here’s the problem.  If you're taking lots of calcium – either supplements or dairy - and not much magnesium, you could be out of balance.  And sadly most Americans are eating a high-calcium, low-magnesium diet.  That’s a recipe for a bone disaster.

In fact, if you’re getting enough magnesium you may not even need the 1,200 mg per day of calcium that the government recommends.  In one study, researchers found that increasing magnesium while lowering calcium to 500 mg per day was enough to increase bone density.[v]

Magnesium is important for lots of other things.  It keeps things flowing in your body.  Without it things get stuck.  As in constipation.  Unfortunately, I know all about that!  You might also notice muscle spasms or leg cramps at night.  Or migraine headaches.

But when your body has enough magnesium your heart beats steady and your blood pressure is normal.  Your muscles and nerves get their groove on.  Your immune system hums.  Your blood sugar is level.  And your mood and memory are bright.

Delicious Ways To Get Bone-Loving Magnesium Into Your Diet

The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for men or 320 mg for women.  Only about 20% of us are getting that much.

But it’s easy to boost your magnesium levels with whole foods.  Dark chocolate has a whopping 176 mg of magnesium in a 3.5 ounce bar. Look for chocolate that is organic, fair-trade, and as dark as possible with at least 70% cacao content.  The higher the cacao content, the lower the sugar content.

Here are some of my other favorite bone-friendly magnesium sources:

  • Dark leafy greens (especially kale - spinach and Swiss chard- in small amounts)
  • Dried seaweed (kombu or hijiki)
  • Almonds, cashews, and filberts
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole grains (especially brown rice and quinoa)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Avocados

You can also take a magnesium supplement.  But keep in mind there are different forms.  Magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are the most common types.  They both also help with constipation.  Magnesium glycinate is a better choice if you don’t want the laxative effect.

Recipe from my divine health coach colleague, Mela Stevens from Whole Body Works

Chocolate Almond Supreme Smoothie:

1 Tablespoon Raw Cacao Powder (raw, unsweetened chocolate powder, found in most natural food stores - high in antioxidants) Here's a link on Amazon for your online purchase

1 banana (frozen for a colder drink)

2 raw local eggs, or 1 scoop of high quality protein powder

1 Tablespoon raw organic almond butter - or peanut butter

1 teaspoon of slivered or chopped almonds (optional)

Blend in your high speed blender - I adore my Vitamix and use it almost daily.

Pour into a fun, and beautiful glass and enjoy!

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Where's Irma besides dancing with her Skellane?

5/18/14 My Day of Healing.  8 Integrative practitioners presenting different ways of healing your body, mind and soul.  Sunday, May 18th from 9:30-4:30pm held in a magical barn in Stockton, NJ

5/27/14.  Filming: cooking demonstration filmed at the Princeton Y on Foods for Healthy Bones with Dorothy Mullen, MS,  Founder of The Suppers Program.

Presenting:  Cornerstone Health Clubs in PA.  Date to be determined.


[i] Ryder KM et al, Magnesium intake from food and supplements is associated with bone mineral density in healthy older white subjects.  J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Nov;53(11):1875-80. Pubmed 16274367

[ii] Jahnen-Dechent W., Ketteler M. Magnesium basics. Clin. Kidney J. 2012;5:i3–i14. doi: 10.1093/ndtplus/sfr163. [Cross Ref]
[iii] Saggese, G. Bertelloni, S. Baroncelli, G. I. Federico, G. Calisti, L. Fusaro, C. Bone demineralization and impaired mineral metabolism in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. A possible role of magnesium deficiency. Helv Paediatr Acta. 1989 Jun; 43 (5-6): 405-14. Pubmed 2787312

[iv] Zofková I, , Kancheva RL. The relationship between magnesium and calciotropic hormones. Magnes Res. 1995 Mar; 8 (1): 77-84. Pubmed 7669510

[v] Nieves, J.W. 2005. Osteoporosis: The role of micronutrients.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81 (5): 1232S-1239S.

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30 Essential Foods for Bone Health

From my bones to yours,
Irma Jennings, INHC
Your Holistic Bone Coach
[email protected]

30 Essential Foods for Bone Health
30 Essential Foods for Bone Health
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