How to keep your bones strong and why it’s important

No bones about it, your skeleton is a pretty important part of your body and protecting bone health is worth doing. After all, our bones keep us moving while protecting our organs, hearts, and brains from damage and injury. Guess where our body stores minerals like calcium and phosphorus, and releases them as we need them? Yes, it’s in the bones.

Although they serve as infrastructure, bones are not static. They change all the time, breaking down old bones and creating healthy new bones. When we are younger, new bone grows rapidly. It overtakes the breakdown of old bones, which leads to an increase in bone mass. You have a lot of bones as a teenager and young adult. Most of us reach peak bone mass around the age of 30. As we age, our bodies continue to break down old bones and grow new bones, but not at the same rate. Older people break down bone at a faster rate than they grow new bone, so bone mass begins to decline.

Building strong, healthy bones during our childhood and adolescence is important because it allows us to have a reserve of extra bone mass to draw on as we age. The more you have in your “bone bank” (the higher your peak bone mass), the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak and fragile bones. Osteoporosis can weaken bones to the point that falling from a standing position can cause bone fractures.

Osteopenia, AKA low bone mass, is not a disease. People may have low bone mass as children or adults and may or may not develop osteoporosis. The trick is to maintain the bone density you have and do your best not to lose more of it. A person who has low bone mass (osteopenia) can develop osteoporosis if their bones become less dense over time.

Bone mass and bone density: what are the factors?

A bone mineral density (BMD) test can be used to determine if you have bone density problems or osteoporosis, which it does by measuring the calcium and phosphorus in the bones and measuring their density or thickness .

It is a quick and painless test.

Who should ask their doctor for a bone mineral density test?

  • Women or men who have broken bones, with or without trauma after age 50
  • All women aged 65 and over
  • All men aged 70 and over
  • Women under 65 who have reached menopause and have risk factors for osteoporosis
  • Men aged 50 to 69 with risk factors for osteoporosis

Some of us are at greater risk for loss of bone density, osteoporosis and osteopenia. Here are some factors to consider when assessing your risk:

Your size. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 19 or less, are extremely thin, or have a short stature, you may have less bone mass to begin with, so you’ll want to take steps to maintain this. that you have. got.

Age. Bones naturally thin and weaken with age.

Ethnic and family medical history. People of white or Asian ethnicity are at higher risk for osteoporosis. If you have a sibling or relative with the condition, your risk is greater. The same is true if you have a family history of bone fractures.

Level of physical activity. If your lifestyle is more sedentary, you may want to focus on adding movement to your days. People who are less active increase their risk of osteoporosis. Adding movement to your day doesn’t have to involve a lot of rigamarole. Park a little further from the grocery store entrance. Walk up and down your stairs during commercials. Walk around the neighborhood after dinner.

Hormones. For men, low testosterone can cause low bone mass. Too much thyroid hormone can lead to bone loss in both men and women. Declining estrogen levels at menopause are a factor in bone loss for women, as is a prolonged period of amenorrhea (no menstruation) leading to menopause.

Medications. Some drugs that could damage or shrink bones include anti-epileptic drugs like phenytoin (Dilantin), aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, corticosteroids like prednisone, cortisone, dexamethasone and prednisolone, selective serotonin uptake inhibitors and proton pump inhibitors.

Celiac disease and other disorders. People with eating disorders whose severe restriction of food intake results in being underweight, or people with conditions like celiac disease, which decreases your body’s ability to absorb calcium, may want to speak with their bone health physician.

How to take better care of your bones

There are many small lifestyle tweaks you can easily make to give your bones a break, so to speak. Strong bones need calcium and vitamin D, but these tips and tactics can also be very helpful:

Enjoy a calcium-rich diet. What is the right amount? For women 51 and older (and men 71 and older), the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1,200 milligrams. For women 50 and under (and men 70 and under), the RDA is 1,000 milligrams per day.

Dietary calcium can be found in many common foods, including dairy products, broccoli, sardines, almonds, kale, canned salmon with bones, and soy products, such as tofu. If it’s hard to get enough calcium through your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement to your diet.

Give up the tobacco habit. Data shows us that one of the contributors to weak bones is smoking.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women, or more than two per day for men, can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Be sure to take vitamin D. Why? You need it to absorb calcium. They work as a team. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) per day for people aged 19 to 70. For ages 71 and older, it increases to 800 IU per day. Vitamin D is found in fortified foods like milk and cereals, as well as mushrooms, eggs, and fatty fish like whitefish, tuna, trout, and salmon. You can also get vitamin D from sunlight. When sunlight hits your skin, its ultraviolet rays combine with a protein (7-DHC) in the skin, which is then converted into vitamin D. While we’re talking about sunlight, let’s debunk a myth right now . Sunscreen does not inhibit vitamin D production, so use it!

Weight exercises. Lots of exercise is good for you! When it comes to your bones, weight-bearing exercises are very helpful. Walking, climbing stairs and jogging force your tendons and muscles to apply tension to the bones. This tells the bones to produce more bone tissue. Your risk of fractures, osteopenia and osteoporosis decreases accordingly, as the bones become stronger and denser. Other weight-bearing exercises are dancing, skipping, tennis, and hiking.

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