Bones play many roles in our bodies—protecting vital organs, providing structural support for the body, and anchoring muscles. While it is very important to build strong bones during childhood, maintaining bone health is even more crucial as we get older.
Here are 5 ways you can protect your bones with proper nutrition and lifestyle habits.
5 tips for protecting your bones
- Eat more vegetables: Vegetables are a great source of vitamins C and K that help improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. Consuming green and yellow vegetables more frequently can increase bone mineralization and maintain bone mass in young adults.
- Include more calcium in your diet: Calcium is the building block of bones, so add more to your daily diet. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Other foods such as almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, and soy products such as tofu contain a decent amount of calcium as well.
- Perform strength training: Doing weight-bearing exercises, such as weight training, walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, can help you protect your bones and slow bone loss.
- Get plenty of vitamin D: Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium from the gut. Most adults require 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Good sources of vitamin D include sunlight and oily fish such as salmon, trout, whitefish and tuna. Additionally, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified milk and cereals provide an adequate amount of vitamin D.
- Avoid substance abuse: Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption have been associated with loss of bone mineral density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Give up smoking and limit alcohol to no more than one drink each day for women and two drinks each day for men.
Why does bone loss occur?
Bones are constantly changing, as old bone is broken down and new bone is made. When you are young, your body makes new bone tissue much more quickly, with peak bone mass usually occurring around age 30.
However, as we age, you begin to lose more bone mass than you build. Bone density loss can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis, which is a condition in which bones become fragile and break easily.
Broken bones are painful and sometimes require surgery to heal, which can lead to lifelong health problems. That is why it is vital to protect your bones especially as you get older.
What factors affect bone health?
Factors that affect bone health include:
- Sex (women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis particularly after menopause)
- Diet low in calcium
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Hormonal imbalances (such as increased thyroid levels, dropping estrogen levels or low testosterone levels)
- Restricted food intake or being underweight
- Certain medications such as corticosteroid medications and aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer
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