Our bones play a key role in our body. Bones provide structure, protect organs, anchors muscles, and they store calcium. Building strong bones in children is important but just as important is maintaining healthy bones as we age.
Our bones are continuously changing. Old bones are broken down and new bone grows. As we age we not only lose bone mass but we are not as efficient in making new bone. The likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you have when you reach 30 years of age and how quickly you lose it after that. The higher your bone mass the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less chance of developing osteoporosis.
Here are some factors that effect bone health:
The amount of calcium in your diet:
Not eating enough calcium will contribute to decreasing bone density, early bone loss, and increase of fractures.
People, who are inactive, have a greater risk of osteoporosis.
Smoking and Drinking:
Both tobacco and alcohol contributes to weak bones
Women are at greater risk than men are.
Extremely thin people or people with a small frame are at greater risk due to smaller amount of bone mass.
Race and Family History:
White people and people of Asian descent are at greater risk. Having a parent or sibling that had/has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk.
Too much thyroid hormone, dropping estrogen levels in women, and low testosterone levels in men can cause bone loss.
Severely restricting food intake and being under weight will weaken bone in both men and women. Celiac disease can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Long-term use of corticosteroid medications is damaging to bone. Other medications can also affect bone health. Talk to your doctor about your medication affecting your health.
How can you help your bones?
Include lots of calcium into your diet:
Adults 19 – 50 and men aged 51-70 require 1000 mg of calcium per day. For women over 51 the recommended amount is 1200 mg per day. Good source of calcium include dairy, almonds, broccoli, kale, salmon, sardines, and soy products such as tofu.
Get enough vitamin D:
Your body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium Adults 19-70 require 600 IUs per day. Sources of vitamin D include oily fish (salmon, trout, etc.), mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods such as milk.
Get out and move:
Weight bearing exercises such as walking, running, and climbing stirs will help build strong bones.
Avoid substance abuse:
Avoid smoking and too much drinking.
If you are concerned about your bone health talk to your doctor. Understand the risks that you might be under and discuss a plan to enhance your bone health.