Nov. 7, 2018

Pairing Eggs and Calcium for Bone Health

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

Do you know that eggs play a role in bone health? Most people make the connection between dairy products, calcium and bone health, but many don’t know that eggs play a role, too! Eggs are one of the few foods that contain vitamin D, which is a vital partner to calcium when building healthy bones. November is the perfect time to talk about pairing calcium and vitamin D in egg and dairy recipes since November is Osteoporosis Month. Osteoporosis Canada is drawing attention to this condition that affects two million Canadians.

You may know someone with osteoporosis since it affects roughly two million Canadians. Osteoporosis causes bones to become thin and porous. It leads to decreased bone strength and makes people more susceptible to bone breaks, most often at the wrist, spine, shoulder and hip.

There isn’t a known cause of osteoporosis and it can strike both men and women at any age. One in three women and one in five men will have an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. The statistic from Osteoporosis Canada that really struck me was this: fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.

There are some things that can help prevent osteoporosis including a balanced diet with enough calcium and vitamin D, weight-bearing exercise, and avoiding smoking and heavy drinking.

The real test seems to be how much bone was built in your childhood years. So, if you are a parent or caregiver to children, take heed: building bone is important starting in childhood when the skeleton is continually growing. Bone mass that’s acquired during childhood actually determines the risk of osteoporotic fractures later in life. Quite simply, the higher the peak bone mass as children, the lower the risk of osteoporosis as adults.

Kids need to get enough bone-building nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus, and they need to be physically active – oh, and using their fingers on tablets or thumbs on video games just doesn’t cut it. Bone building requires weight-bearing exercises to build bone density and mass.

A recent study published in the journal “Osteoporosis International” looked at the link between childhood whole egg intake and arm and leg bone health – specifically the radius and tibia. Egg intake was positively correlated with radius and tibia cortical bone mineral content and total body bone mineral density. So, incorporating whole eggs into children's diets is a good strategy to promote a child’s bone development, prevent fractures, and possibly reduce the future risk of osteoporosis. Note that whole eggs are important – not just egg whites – because vitamin D is found in the yolk.

Why do eggs help? It’s likely the vitamin D content. Vitamin D helps increase the absorption of calcium. And while the mighty egg doesn’t contain calcium, it is packed with vitamin D to ultimately build stronger bones. Just look at our Naturegg Omega Plus eggs. Just one Omega Plus shell egg or 1/4 cup of liquid egg has 25% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin D. As we get older, vitamin D remains an important nutrient for bone health. It improves the function of muscles, which works to improve balance and decrease the likelihood of falls and fractures.

Here are some of my favourite “bone-building” recipes that pair calcium with vitamin D:

Want to learn more about osteoporosis? I found these resources to be quite handy: International Osteoporosis Foundation and Osteoporosis Canada .

Margaret Hudson

President, Burnbrae Farms