Bone Health – Protecting the health of your bones is easier than you think. Appreciate how diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors can affect your bone density.
Muscles serve many functions in the body: they build structure, protect organs, support muscles, and store calcium. While it’s essential to make substantial, healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, you can also take steps to protect bone health in adulthood.
Why is bone health important?
Bones are continually changing: the body makes new bone tissue, and existing bone tissue wears out. When you are young, the body produces new bone tissue faster than living bone tissue wears out, and bone density increases. Most people reach their peak bone density around the age of 30. After that, bone remodeling continues, but slightly more bone density is lost than is gained.
How likely you are to develop osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle depends on how much bone density you reach by the time you turn 30 and how quickly you lose it. The higher the maximum bone density you acquire, the more bone tissue you will have “in reserve” and the lower the probability of suffering from osteoporosis as you age.
What can affect bone health?
Several factors can affect bone health. For instance:
- The amount of calcium in your diet. A low calcium diet contributes to decreased bone density, early decalcification, and an increased risk of fractures.
- Physical activity. Compared to more active people, sedentary people are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis.
- Consumption of tobacco and alcohol. Research suggests that tobacco use weakens bones. Also, frequently drinking more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or two alcoholic beverages a day for men can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Sex. You have a higher risk of osteoporosis if you are a woman because women have less bone tissue than men.
- Size. You are at risk if you are skinny (with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small frame, as you may have less bone density as you age.
- Age. Your bones become thinner and feebler as you age.
- Race and family history. You are at higher risk for osteoporosis if you are white or of Asian descent. Also, having some of your parents or siblings with osteoporosis puts you at higher risk, especially if you also have a family history of fractures.
- Hormonal levels High thyroid hormone levels can cause osteoporosis. In women, the decrease in bone density increases considerably during menopause due to decreased estrogen levels. In men, minor testosterone levels can cause a reduction in bone density. The prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis.
- Eating disorders and other conditions. Extreme restriction of food intake and low weight weaken bones in both men and women. Also, weight-loss surgery and conditions like celiac disease can affect the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
- Certain medications Long-term use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone, is harmful to the bones. Other drugs that may increase the risk of osteoporosis include aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital, and inhibitors of the proton pump.
What can I do to save my bones healthy?
You container income some simple steps to prevent or slow bone loss. For instance:
- Include a lot of calcium in your diet. Adults ages 19-50 and men ages 51-70 have a recommended daily intake of 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg per day for women over 51 and for men over 71.
Some good sources of calcium are dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines, and soy products like tofu. If you find it challenging to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about supplements.
- Pay attention to vitamin D. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults between 19 and 70, the recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 international units. The recommendation increases to 800 international units for adults over 71 years of age.
Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, and tuna. Mushrooms, eggs, and fortified diets, such as milk and cereals, are also good sources of vitamin D. Sunlight also contributes to vitamin D production in the body. If you’re concerned about success enough vitamin D, ask your doctor about supplements.
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking, jogging, and mounting stairs, can help strengthen your bones and slow bone loss.
- Avoid substance abuse. Do not smoke. If you are a woman, try not to drink more than one alcoholic drink per day. If you are male, try not to drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day.
Ask your doctor for help
Refer your doctor if you have doubts about your bone health or risk factors for osteoporosis, such as a recent bone fracture. He might recommend a bone density scan. The results will help your doctor calculate your bone density and determine the rate of decrease in bone mass. By evaluating this material and your risk factors, your doctor can assess whether you may be a candidate for medication to help delay bone loss.