Taking care of your bones is extremely important for reducing the chances of developing osteoporosis. Approximately 44 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to thin and become brittle, and osteopenia, a condition that diminishes low bone density. Age, nutrition and gender — with women being of higher risk — are all factors that can lead to these conditions.
Bones continuously regenerate, with old bones breaking down and new bones being made. Younger people make new bones faster than they break down bones, causing an increase in bone mass. Typically, people reach peak bone mass around age 30. Bone regeneration continues after that, but bones are broken down faster than they are made. Having a higher bone mass at your peak means your risk for developing osteoporosis is lower as you age because you have more bone mass at the start of decline.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Having the right amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet is important for keeping bones healthy, preventing early bone loss and diminishing the risk for osteoporosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70 should get 1,000 mg of calcium per day. For women, who are at higher risk for osteoporosis than men because they naturally have less bone tissue, the recommendation goes up to 1,200 mg per day for those 51 and older.
Some good dietary sources of calcium include:
- Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt;
- Green vegetables like kale, broccoli, turnip greens;
- Fish like salmon and sardines; and
- Soy products such as tofu.
If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, you should ask your doctor about calcium supplements.
As for vitamin D, which is important for helping the body absorb calcium, adults ages 19 to 70 should get 600 international units (IU) per day and those age 71 and older should get 800 IUs. You may be able to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, but you also can supplement that by adding these vitamin D rich foods to your diet:
- Oily fish such as tuna and sardines;
- Egg yolks; and
- Fortified milk.
You can also take vitamin D supplements.
Along with proper nutrition, you can take help slow bone loss by exercising regularly, consuming less than two alcoholic drinks per day and not smoking. If you are concerned about your bone health, speak with your doctor, who may recommend a bone density test.
If you want to learn more, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital also provides educational seminars on bone health. To learn about the next seminar, you can join Burke’s e-mail list to receive updates about educational seminars and events.