Today I learned that a lifesize human skeleton replica will cost you around 200 bucks (or, save a few bones with the 33 inch version by Anatomy Warehouse). Bones are expensive! Those grave robbers knew what they were doing.

While we're alive, bones and muscles work together. The bones support the muscles, and the muscles make the bones move. Without bones, we would just be a blob, stuck in one place. Even snakes have skeletons that let them bite & slither on the ground. Luckily, we have a lot of bones to help us do fun things & run from scary things. There are 206 bones in the adult human body, but we're born with more --270 -- so we can squeeze out of our mom's uterus. As we grow up, some bones fuse together to give us a stronger skeleton. 

Some important bones include the pelvis (hip bone), knee bones (patella & leg bones), skull and humorous. Your skull is especially important, because it protects your brain! Your spinal column supports the bones on the upper half of your body, as well as your pelvis (ribs, shoulder bones and skull); if it is injured or you don't eat enough calcium, your neck and shoulders may develop a permanent slouch.

Now sit up straight

BoneThugsIt's the kind of question that our mothers harass us with. When we voice our answer, doctors stare at us disapprovingly. This is also the reason we avoid dietitians, or outright lie to nurses and grandmothers. When you're old, you won't want to move much anyway, right? What am I talking about? Calcium! It's National Osteoporosis Day, so in the spirit I calculated yesterday's calcium intake: Almost Zero (you know, if you count a piece of cake or 2 miscellaneous eggs). As much as I'd like to ignore this and pretend I get plenty of calcium, I don't want to have a hunchback at 60 years old. My great aunt is 90 and still travels the world! Talk about inspiring. So how do you get more calcium? And not just in your diet - how do you make sure it gets into your bones and stays there, after you're old and prone to falling from natural declines in your sense of balance? I'll give you a hint: dairy doesn't make your bones any less frail. So what are good sources of calcium, then? Click the link, or read on: leafy greens (especially kale), nuts (almonds!), seeds, soy, and white beans. See Whole Food's list for more ideas. Exercise is also great for strengthening bones, but it needs to be weight-bearing, like these workout ideas (floating in the pool doesn't count). Try yoga, running, or dancing! Do you have any favorite workouts or calcium-rich recipes?  
StomachSmoothie Need more energy in the morning? Consider starting your day off with a smoothie! According to a great article by Wed MD on energy, "You feel better, mentally and physically, when you've had a meal that combines carbs and protein." Fruits are a great way to get carbs without processed sugars and flours. Now for protein, how do you know if you're getting enough? See this handy article that explains how much protein you need and where to get it, even if you're vegetarian. Below are some smoothie ideas that combine carbs + protein. If you have a favorite smoothie recipe, please share!   Oatmeal Smoothie 1 cup Water 1 cup Oats 1.5 cups Kale or Spinach 2 cups Chopped Fruit (1 banana, plus berries or whatever you have lying around) 1/4 cup Peanutbutter Add 4 Ice cubes (add ice after everything else is blended; it will add a nice texture & cool things down)   Berry Smoothie - Easily disguises tastes like kale and flaxseed, Hooray! 1 or 2 Bananas 1/2 cup Frozen Berries Almond Milk (or Water - gives it a thinner consistency. Add ~1/4 cup at the beginning. At the end you can add more if you want it thinner) 1 spoon of Peanutbutter (gives a nutty taste, if you're into that sorta thing, plus a smoother texture) Kale or Spinach (optional, but adds a ton of nutrients, fiber, and a great plant source of calcium. The taste is hidden by the rest of the ingredients) Flax seed (optional. A plant source of Omega 3 fats. Also makes your hair + nails grow strong and faster!) 1 other fresh fruit of your choice (Optional, but makes it even more delicious! Choose from: peeled orange, pineapple, or any fruit sitting in the fridge that needs to be eaten) A few ice cubes (add at the end for texture)   Want more? See this woman's facebook page - a ton of smoothie ideas here!  
gotCalcium Bones do a lot for us. Without them, we would probably look like blobs and have to roll around to get places. Our muscles wouldn't be very effective, either. Besides structure, the bones do even more. Along with our teeth, bones hold 99% of the calcium in our bodies! Calcium is pretty important because the body uses it to keep our blood from getting too acidic. Here's how: when there's too much acid floating around in your blood, calcium gets pulled out of your bones to neutralize the acid. That calcium then ends up in the urine and is flushed out of the body. For more reading about calcium, diet, and bone health, here are a couple links: See what Harvard has to say about dairy. Great article on acidity, calcium resorption, & diet. A nerdy, scientific article from the American Society for Nutrition. All about Calcium, Dairy & Osteoporosis from the American College of Nutrition.