The Bare Bones

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Keep your bones healthy and strong with these tips

The functions of bones go beyond providing structural support and protecting organs from injury. They also store minerals, such as calcium, which are necessary for proper functioning of other organs in the body. “Keeping your skeleton healthy is important to both prevent fractures and to maintain your bone marrow’s vigorous cell production,” says R. Keith McCormick, author of The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis: How to Improve Bone Strength and Reduce Your Fracture Risk.

A healthy diet with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D and exercise are vital for healthy bones, especially from childhood right through all ages. But, you may wonder, how is it possible to keep bones healthy in adulthood, since the skeleton is pretty much set by the time you hit the age of 30? As the saying goes, it is never too late to start. In The Complete Book of Bone Health, Diane L. Schneider assures readers of the same. “After reaching the maximum bone mass by age thirty, there is no nice plateau during middle age. Bone loss starts happening slowly with the process called remodelling, which is a little like climbing a mountain: You reach the summit, take some pictures to document your achievement, then slowly start to work your way down the other side. Just as in growing your bone mass, the same supplies are essential to supporting bone remodelling.”

Women should particularly pay more attention as they are at higher risk of bone loss. When they hit menopause, women face rapid bone loss because of the drop in oestrogen. According to Lara Pizzorno, author of Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life―Naturally, “Women start out with less bone than men. Women’s peak bone mass is naturally less than men’s because women are smaller and have less muscle…the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, play vital roles in bone remodeling, and levels of both hormones drop with menopause.”

Promote bone health with these useful strategies.

Eat A Healthy Diet

Eat a diet rich in calcium and get the right amount of Vitamin D as it helps the body absorb calcium. Dairy products, beans and green leafy vegetables are some of the good sources of calcium. Talk to your doctor about Vitamin D supplements. This is important especially for older people because their bodies can’t effectively absorb vitamin D from sunshine. Stop smoking (a culprit that accelerates bone loss), and if you must, drink alcohol in moderation.

Exercise

Exercise, especially strength training, helps in building bone mass. “Studies show that regular weight bearing exercise and strength training can increase bone density in older adults by at least 1 percent per year. This may not sound like a lot, but it’s significant considering that without the appropriate exercise, you could lose 1 percent or more bone density per year,” says Margaret Martin, author of Exercise for Better Bones: The Complete Guide to Safe and Effective Exercises for Osteoporosis.

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