Our bones continually change throughout our life. Bone is a living, growing tissue, so new bone will be produced to replace the bone that is lost. We can maintain a healthy bone mass when our body can produce the same amount of bone that was removed. When our body fails to keep up with the bone that is being lost, we will have an overall lower bone mass. A lower bone mass may easily lead to fractures, difficulty walking, and an overall lower quality of life.
Ensuring that our bones stay strong should start at an early age, but it is never too late to begin taking care of our bones. We usually will reach our peak bone density between the ages of 18 and 25. After age 25, it is very important to follow some healthy guidelines to help keep our skeleton strong. Here are some tips to help maintain a healthy bone mass:
In childhood, exercise is essential to help form strong bones, but it is also equally important later in life to help maintain it. New bone will grow best when there is slight stressed placed on it. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking or any exercise where you are supporting yourself against gravity are the best for improving bone strength. Exercise will also help to improve posture and balance to decrease fall risk later in life. Tai chi is an excellent type of exercise that incorporates both weight-bearing and balance exercises that is very suitable for the older adult.
A well balanced diet high in calcium and vitamin D is very important. Calcium is a mineral that helps to build strong bones. In childhood, calcium will help build up the density in our bones to help us reach our peak bone density. In later adulthood, it is important to maintain proper calcium intake because if the body is not getting the calcium it needs, it will begin to take it from our bones, leaving us at risk for osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps our body absorb calcium, which is needed to keep bones strong. Our natural source of vitamin D is the sun. Vitamin D is naturally occurring in some types of fatty fish and eggs. There are a few foods, such as milks or cereals, that may be fortified in vitamin D, but these may not be enough. Ask your doctor about healthy levels of vitamin D and if you would benefit from a supplement or multivitamin.
Excessive alcohol intake may impair the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Tobacco products are not healthy for the body, but especially the bones. They tend to cause the bones to become more brittle, which may lead to falls and possible bone fractures.
Following menopause, women lose bone mass very quickly due to the decline in the hormone estrogen. Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle as well as helps to promote healthy bones. It is very important to speak to your doctor if you are a woman who does not get a regular menstrual cycle or who is going through menopause to make sure that your hormones are at a healthy level.
Don’t think it is too late to start implementing some healthy actions into your life to help maintain bone health. Some small changes now may go a long way to ensure that you stay strong and lead an active life well into your later years.
Your comment about Calcium is important, but you don’t say how to maintain a healthy amount of calcium in your diet.
Thank you for bringing this up. Besides dairy like milk, cheese and yogurt, many other foods are a good source of calcium. These include broccoli, spinach, oranges, tofu, salmon, sardines and certain types of nuts and beans. The US Department of Agriculture recommends that all poeple over the age of 9 eat at least 3 cups of food from the dairy group since this is our main source of calcium. For more detailed information, visit the US Department of Agriculture website, http://www.usda.gov.