As we grow older, our bodies lose bone density so it’s never too early or too late to be thinking about your bones.
In adulthood, it is important to maintain bone density and try to slow the rate of bone loss through diet or physical activity.
Bone loss can cause osteoporosis that is a health condition that weakens bones, making them brittle and more likely to break.
The good news: ‘There’s a lot you can do to keep your bones strong and healthy’.
The first step is getting all the nutrients you need for build bone health.
A healthy diet can significantly reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis and the best time to start is right now!
When it comes to bone building, Calcium and vitamin D are the most important nutrients to maintain bone strength throughout your lifetime.
Calcium is a crucial building block of bone tissue while vitamin D helps your body effectively absorb calcium.
Calcium and vitamin D work together to protect your bones and are the cornerstone of healthy bones.
So even if you’re taking in enough calcium, it could be going to waste if you don’t get enough vitamin D.
Your doctor may recommend you take supplements of both, but you can also get them through the foods you eat daily.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 1,000 milligrams daily for women up to age 50 and men up to age 70 and 1,200 milligrams daily for women after menopause and men after 70.
Milk and other dairy products are the most readily available sources of calcium.
Other good food sources of calcium include calcium-fortified orange juice, canned salmon, beans, nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, and broccoli.
Speak to your doctor about calcium supplements if you don’t eat those foods daily.
Having enough vitamin D is also essential.
Researchers conclude that most Americans fall short on vitamin D, a vital nutrient.
We generate most of our vitamin D from sun exposure, so try to get exposure to the sun as much as possible for short periods of time over spring and summer, making sure to wear sunscreen.
As we age, the body becomes less effective at producing vitamin D, so older people are particularly at high risk of vitamin deficiency.
For bone protection, adults need at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day.
Adults 70 years and older need 800 IU of vitamin D a day to prevent osteoporosis and fractures from falls.
Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, mushrooms, egg yolks and foods fortified with vitamin D, such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals.
When we don’t get vitamin D from the sun, you can also take vitamin D supplements, particularly over the winter – If you are in need of vitamin D supplements, you can consult here.
Here is 5 more tips to help keep your bones strong and prevent symptoms of osteoporosis besides eating a diet rich in Calcium and vitamin D:
1. Exercise regularly to keep your bones strong
The first is regular exercise every week.
Being inactive and sitting in front of the computer too much makes your muscles and bones lose strength, says the NHS, which increases your risk of osteoporosis, falls and fractures.
Aim to get outside to breathe and be active for at least 150 minutes each week, in bouts of at least 10 minutes.
Try some ideas below to help keep your bones strong:
- Exercises where you use your own weight, such as running, walking, hiking, low impact aerobics, dancing, tennis and golf.
- Resistance activities like lifting weights, squat, bench or push-ups to help build muscle, which keeps your bones strong.
- Stretching exercises like yoga and tai chi to help improve balance and coordination of the whole body, which will lower your risk of falling and breaking bones.
2. Avoid smoking and drinking
Research has found a link between smoking and drinking and an increased risk of weak bones, so it’s best to avoid smoking or drinking more than one or two alcoholic drinks per day.
Smoking has been shown to:
- Reducing the flow of blood to the bones
- Slowing bone-forming cell production
- Impairing calcium absorption
3. Get enough nutrients to keep your bones strong
Potassium, vitamin K and magnesium allow calcium to be processed and used by your body.
Get these important nutrients by eating a variety of healthy foods like green leafy vegetables (Kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards) and fruit, legumes (Beans, peas, lentils), nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish.
Protein helps to build muscle, which helps to maintain healthy bones.
Choose protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), milk, cheese, cottage cheese, soy beverages, yogurt, nuts and seeds.
4. Limit eating salty foods
Eating foods that have a lot of salt (sodium) causes your body to lose calcium and cancontribute to bone loss.
Try to limit the amount of processed foods and salt added to the foods you consume daily.
Look at the Nutrition Facts label to learn whether a food is high in sodium.
If it lists 20% or more for the % Daily Value, it is high in sodium and you should consider whether to use it or not.
The target is to get 2,400 mg of sodium or less per day.
Coffee, tea and soft drinks (sodas) contain caffeine, having too much caffeine can decrease the amount of calcium you absorb.
Choose these drinks in moderation with target for no more than 400mg of caffeine per day for adults (about 2-3 cups of coffee per day).
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should have no more than 300 mg caffeine per day or in my opinion should only consume 1 cup of coffee a day if absolutely necessary.