Human bone, like any other organic tissue, needs the right conditions to thrive. The thinning and weakening of bone seen in conditions such as osteoporosis can lead to frequent fractures, spinal deformities, and other serious problems.
Fortunately, you can exert considerable control over your bone health simply by nurturing your skeleton through some wise lifestyle choices. Here are some smart, simple steps you can take right now which can help you enjoy stronger bones for may years to come.
Get the Right Mix of Minerals
Bones consist mainly of calcium phosphate and a connective tissue known as collagen. Most of the calcium you consume ends up supporting bone growth and remodeling. However, your body cannot use calcium unless it also has regular access to vitamin D, which it can synthesize from sufficient sun exposure. Since most of us on this side of the globe, are not getting regular and sufficient sun exposure year round, vitamin D supplementation is most often necessary, at 2,000-5,000 i.u/day.
To ensure that your body has the raw materials it needs to maintain strong, healthy bones, in addition to a vitamin D supplement, make a point to consume generous amounts of calcium-rich foods. Most people aged 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day; women over 50 and men over 70 may need even more (1200 mg/day). Foods to include in your diet that are rich in calcium include dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli rabe and collard greens, nuts and seeds like almonds, poppy, sesame, sunflower and chia seeds, canned salmon and sardines, tofu, tempeh and dairy products.
Don't focus entirely on calcium at the expense of magnesium. Magnesium not only helps to preserve bone structure, but it is also necessary for proper vitamin D absorption. The recommended daily dose of magnesium for adults is 360-420 mg/day. Supplementation may be necessary if you're not consuming magnesium rich foods regularly. These foods include pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts, avocados, brown rice, baked potato skin, soy products, black and kidney beans and dark chocolate (65% cacao or higher).
Get Regular (Weight-Bearing) Exercise
Weight-bearing and resistance exercises are the most effective forms of exercise to maintain healthy, strong bones. As the bones undergo this type of stress, they respond by ramping up their production of new bone cells. The extra bone production reduces the rate of bone loss, a critical benefit for anyone seeking to avoid or control osteoporosis.
Pursuing a variety of weight-bearing exercises that force your bones to work against gravity such as walking, running, hiking, or climbing stairs, can trigger new bone growth. Resistance training exercises that add a level of stress to your bones, such as strength training with weights or even your own body weight, is said to be the best form of exercise to avoid or reverse the bone loss caused by osteoporosis.
Get Your Thyroid Hormones Into Balance
Your thyroid gland's performance can influence your bone strength and risk for osteoporosis. If it makes too much of a hormone called thyroxine (T4), your body may start ridding itself of old bone faster than it can generate new bone. Low levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) may also make you prone to bone loss.
If you know that you have hyperthyroidism or some other thyroid condition, have your bone density checked; if you have low bone density, have your thyroid hormone levels checked. You may need medication to normalize your thyroid function and preserve your bone health.
Get Help for That Smoking or Drinking Habit
No matter how carefully you monitor your diet, activity level and hormonal balance, a smoking or drinking habit could undercut your efforts to keep your bones in good working order. Smoking disrupts bone modeling in a number of ways, from reducing the available blood supply to impairing calcium absorption.
Smoking also appears to speed up the production of proteins that resorb (break down) old bone for replacement by new bone cells. The breakdown of bone outstrips the production of new bone, not unlike the way a thyroid imbalance can promote osteoporosis.
Excessive alcohol consumption can sabotage your bone health as well. Drinking more than two drinks per day maximum for men, or one drink per day maximum for women, can inhibit the absorption of calcium and vitamin D. It may also decrease estrogen levels while boosting levels of bone-damaging hormones.
Living Proof can help you create a sensible nutrition and exercise strategy for maintaining healthy bone. Contact us today to schedule a virtual consultation or ask about our wellness programs.