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Girls Need Magnesium Now!

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It's official. Our girls need more than just calcium and vitamin D to build healthy bones; they need plenty of magnesium too. This may seem obvious since we've known for some time this mineral is important to adult bone health. But until now there has been little data demonstrating magnesium's critical bone building role in adolescent girls. Of course this is important because girls will be 4 times as likely as boys to develop osteoporosis when they reach adulthood.

New research out of the Yale University School of Medicine reports clear evidence that adequate magnesium is imperative during this time of growth. Study investigators followed adolescent girls who were not meeting the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for this mineral, for one year. Half of them took magnesium pill supplements while the other half did not. Guess what? The girls getting the supplementation ended up with more bone mass than the girls who didn't.

Turns out most of our adolescent girls aren't much different from the girls in this study. They're not getting enough dietary magnesium either!

So what to do? They can start taking magnesium pills too (the girls in this study were given 300 mg a day), but they could also do a pretty good job of getting enough from their diets with a little planning. It's cheaper and tastes better.

As a general rule processed foods are low in magnesium (one more reason to minimize these foods). Luckily, unprocessed, fresh, whole foods have got what we need (another reason to eat these foods!). You know the drill: whole grains, legumes, vegetables - no surprise here. Nuts happen to be excellent sources. Here's a short list of some great foods that will get your daughters started on their road to better bones:

-Spinach and other leafy greens
-Peanut butter
-Black eyed peas
-Low fat milk
-Soy milk
-Nuts (Almonds, Brazil Nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts)
-Whole grains (whole wheat, oats, buckwheat, millet, wild rice)
-Breakfast cereal
-Lentils
-Orange juice
-shrimp
-Tofu
-Edamame (soy beans)

If you want to find out more about this particular study click here to read the abstract. (It was published in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism).

I feel really good about the almonds I had on top of my spinach salad today! I think I'll go snack on some edamame now.
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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