Bone health: Tips on how to keep your bones healthy

Protecting your bone health is not a complex thing to do, it is actually easier than you think. It all depends on understanding how diet, physical activity and other lifestyle factors can affect bone mass. 

Bones play many roles in the body starting from providing structure to protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium. It is important to build strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, you can take further steps during adulthood to protect bone health. 

Why is bone health important?

Your bones are continuously changing — When you are young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases in due course of time. Most people reach their peak bone mass at around 30 years of age. After that, bone remodelling continues, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain as you age further. 

Osteoporosis — a condition that causes bones to turn weak and brittle, this depends on how much bone mass you have attained by the time you are 30 years of age and how rapidly you lose it after that age. The higher your bone mass, the more bone you have in store and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis. 

If you feel that you need an immediate physician to look at your health, you can book an appointment at Premier Medical for the best consultation and treatment. 

What factors affect bone health?

A number of factors affect bone health.  

  • The amount of calcium in your diet, low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. 
  • Physical activity is important as people who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis. 
  • Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones and similarly, regularly having more than one alcoholic drink a day or two may increase the risk of osteoporosis. 
  • You are at greater risk of osteoporosis if you are female because females have less bone tissue than males. 
  • You are at risk if you are extremely thin or have a small body frame because you might have less bone mass to draw from as you age. 
  • Having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk of osteoporosis especially if you also have a family history of fractures and bone health issues. 
  • High thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. For females, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. Prolonged absence of menstruation before menopause stage also increases the risk of osteoporosis. Whereas for males, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass. 
  • Severely restricting food and being underweight weakens bone density in both men and women. In addition to that, weight-loss surgery and conditions such as celiac disease can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium. 
  • Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone, can damage bone health as a side effect. 

What to do to keep bones healthy? 

There are a few simple steps to prevent or slow bone loss.  

  • Include plenty of healthy calcium-based food in your diet. For adults ages 19 to 50 and males ages 51 to 70, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. This increases to 1,200 mg per day for females age 51 and older and for males age 71 and older. 

Good sources of calcium include – dairy products like milk and cheese, nuts like almonds, veggies like broccoli, and kale, fish like canned salmon with bones, and sardines and soy products, such as tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your regular diet, connect with your doctor about supplements.  

  • Pay attention to vitamin D levels in your body. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium which helps bone health. For all adults ages 19 to 70, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) per day. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs per day for adults aged 71 and older. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish like salmon, trout, whitefish and tuna. Besides that, mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods, such as milk and cereals, are good sources of vitamin D. Sunlight contributes to the body’s production of vitamin D as a natural source.  
  • It is necessary to include physical activity in your daily routine to keep the bones strong. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, can be helpful for you to build strong bones and slow bone loss. 
  • Avoid substance abuse like smoking. If you are a female, avoid drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day. If you are a male, avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day. 

Enlist your doctor’s consultation.  

If you’re concerned about your bone health or your risk factors for osteoporosis, including a recent bone fracture, consult a doctor immediately. They will recommend a bone density test and the results will help your doctor gauge your bone density and determine your rate of bone loss. By evaluating this information, the doctor can assess whether you might be a candidate for medication to help slow bone loss or not.