Bones provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles, and store calcium. They support us and allow us to move. Bones are alive. Our body constantly breaks down old bone and puts new bone in its place. As we get older, we break down more bone than we put back. It is therefore normal to lose some bone as we age. But, if we do not take steps to keep our bones healthy, we can lose too much bone and get osteoporosis, where bones become so weak and brittle that they break easily.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep your bones healthy and strong and maintain them as you age. These include eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, getting plenty of exercise, and having good health habits.
It’s all about Calcium
Calcium is the main component of your bones. It is essential for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Old bone cells are continuously broken down and replaced by new ones, it is therefore important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength. A diet that is low in calcium leads to bone loss, reduced bone density, and an increased risk of fractures.
The best way to get calcium is through food. Calcium-rich foods include low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale), fish (sardines), soy products (tofu), almonds, sesame seeds, and calcium-fortified foods (orange juice, cereals). Calcium supplements can also be taken, if necessary.
Vitamin D is Essential
Where there’s calcium, there must be vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb and use calcium and build healthy bones. A lack of vitamin D can weaken bones and increase the risk of fractures.
We get most of our vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from food sources such as egg yolks, fatty fish (mackerel, sardines), cheese, and vitamin D-fortified foods (milk, orange juice, cereal). If necessary, you could opt for a vitamin D supplement.
(Read more about Vitamin D)
Vitamin K and Magnesium also Help
Your body needs vitamin K to use and regulate calcium. Vitamin K helps prevent excess bone loss. It increases the amount of a specific protein required to maintain bone calcium.
Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form for calcium absorption, and also helps keep calcium in the bones and out of the blood vessels and other soft tissues.
(Read more about Vitamin K)
Get plenty of Physical Activity
One of the best ways to keep your bones healthy and strong is staying active. When we are younger, exercise is essential for building strong bones, and when we are older, it is necessary for slowing bone loss and maintaining bone strength. Like muscles, bones become stronger with exercise. Doing activities that put stress on the bones help them become stronger. The best exercises for maintaining and building strong bones are muscle-strengthening and weight-bearing.
Any exercise you do on your feet is weight-bearing because the bones in your legs are supporting your weight. These exercises include running, jumping, walking, stair climbing, and dancing. They help build strong bones and slow bone loss.
Also called resistance exercises. Includes activities like lifting weights or push-ups, which help build muscle and keep your bones strong.
Activities like yoga and tai chi improve flexibility, balance, and coordination, which help lower your risk of falling and breaking bones.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
It’s important to maintain a healthy body weight to keep your bones and joints healthy. If you are underweight, you are at a higher risk of bone loss and fractures. If you are overweight, you may be causing extra stress on your weight-bearing joints, like the knee joint, contributing to pain and stiffness.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Heavy alcohol consumption can reduce your body’s ability to absorb calcium and accelerate bone loss. Alcohol can also increase hormones that reduce the formation of new bone. People who drink a lot of alcohol are therefore more likely to have broken and brittle bones. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
(Read more about How to Break Away from any Addictions)
Studies have shown that smoking can prevent your body from efficiently absorbing calcium and increase the rate of bone loss. This results in a higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures compared to non-smokers. Try to quit smoking right away.
(Read more about the Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco)
Drinking too much caffeine may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Caffeine can be found in many different beverages, such as coffee, cola, and energy drinks. Switch to decaffeinated coffee or to drinks that are naturally caffeine free, such as herbal tea, water, and juice.
Control Salt Intake
Salt is bad for the bone. Sodium chloride, the main component in table salt, may cause calcium loss, weakening bones with time. Limit your intake and also avoid processed foods, such as pickles, instant soups, and fast foods, which have a lot of added salt.
Disclaimer: All material on Hidoc.co is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.