Don’t smoke and limit alcohol consumption. Studies show that both smoking and heavy alcohol use can decrease bone mass and increase the risk of broken bones.
Stay active. Physical activity can help keep bones strong and also improve balance. Try to find time each day for some type of exercise. Strength-building and weight-bearing activities are especially helpful in keeping bones healthy and strong. You may want to include walking, dancing, stair climbing, gardening, and/or supervised weight training.
Don’t forget about vitamin D. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Sunlight is a source of vitamin D, as are herring, sardines, salmon, tuna, liver, egg yolks, and fortified milk and fortified foods. The National Institute on Health (NIH) recommends that adults up to age 70 consume 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day and those over age 70 consume at least 800 IUs daily. Talk with your doctor about how much vitamin D is in your diet and whether or not you should be adding a vitamin D supplement.
Get enough calcium. Calcium is key to bone health. For adult women, the National Institute on Health (NIH) recommends 1,000 mg of calcium a day up to age 50 followed by an increase to 1,200 mg/day in later years. For adult men, the NIH recommends a daily intake of 1,000 mg of calcium until age 70 followed by an increase to 1,200 in later years. Calcium-rich foods include milk, cheese, yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and collard greens, sardines, soy products like tofu, as well as fortified cereals and fortified orange juice. Your doctor may also suggest calcium supplements.
Bones are a wondrous, amazing part of the body that we often take for granted. Our bones support our bodies and help us stand erect. Our bones allow us to move. Our bones protect our vital organs. Our bones store essential minerals and produce blood cells. As we age, we need our bones to be strong so we can stay mobile, active, healthy, and happy throughout life.
Weak bones break more easily. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis. Weak bones can alter our posture and even shrink our height. Weak bones can affect our ability to stand, walk, and move. Weak bones can steal away our ability to function independently.
It’s easy to assume that if we feel healthy and strong then our bones must be healthy and strong. But the assumption does not always hold true. Most people attain the majority of their bone mass by age 30. After that, the average body tends to lose more bone mass than it gains.
Many people in their seasoned years have no idea their bones have become dangerously weak until one breaks. That’s because there are no glaring symptoms or warning signs that signal a problem. And that’s why it is important to give your bones the attention they deserve.
Many things weaken bones. Some we can’t control, but others we can. The good news is that it is never too late to improve bone health. Even in our later years, there are steps we can take to prevent or slow down bone loss. Speak with your doctor about what you can do to support your bone health.
The following suggestions can help support bone health:
Reduce your risk of falling. Wear properly fitting shoes with support and nonskid soles. Check your home for fall hazards like poor lighting, unsecured rugs, and loose electrical cords. Always be alert and watch your step in settings that are unfamiliar to you.
Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight can put extra strain on your bones. Plus, excessive body fat - especially around the middle of the body - has been linked to lower bone mass. Being underweight can also raise the risk of bone loss and bone fractures.
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