Our bones provide the structural support for our bodies. They are not rigid structures but rather living entities that provide strength, flexibility, and vitality to our bodies. Our bones possess a remarkable ability to heal themselves when fractured and undergo constant renewal. To ensure optimal bone health, it is important to understand the factors that influence bone strength, as well as adopt lifestyle habits that promote strong bones.
Why is bone health important?
The nature of our bones involves a continuous process of change, where new bone is formed while old bone is broken down. In our youthful years, the body generates new bone at a faster rate than it breaks down, resulting in an increase in bone mass.
As we get older, our bones becomes less dense and more prone to facture, potentially leading to the development of osteoporosis. This chronic condition weaken bones, leaving them hollow and fragile, making the bones susceptible to fractures from even minor injuries or falls. Typically, individuals reach their peak bone mass around the age of 30. After the peak bone mass is reached, the rate of bone loss slightly exceeds the rate of new bone formation.
The likelihood of developing osteoporosis is influenced by the amount of bone mass attained by the age of 30 and the subsequent rate of bone loss. Building a higher peak bone mass establishes a valuable reserve that lowers the risk of osteoporosis as we grow older, safeguarding our bone health.
Risk factors of bone health
When it comes to maintaining robust bone health, there are several factors that can affect your chances of developing osteoporosis such as:
The amount of calcium in your diet: Low calcium intake can cause bone loss, weakening bones and increased risk of fractures.
Physical activity: People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than people who exercise regularly.
Tobacco and alcohol use: The use of tobacco contributes to the weakening of bones. Similarly, having more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or two for men may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Gender: Women have less bone tissue than men, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis.
Size: People with a low body mass index or small frames are at risk of osteoporosis because their bodies won't be able to draw on as much bone-building material for future use.
Age: With age, your bones tend to lose density and become weaker.
What can I do to keep my bones healthy?
Incorporating a few simple lifestyle habits can help to prevent or slow the loss of bone mass, including:
Include plenty of calcium in your diet. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium for adults aged 19-50 and men aged 51-70 is 1,000 mg/day. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, sardines, and soy products like tofu.
Pay attention to vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. The RDA of vitamin D for adults aged 19-70 is 600 IUs/day, increasing to 800 IUs/day for adults aged 71 and older. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish like salmon and tuna, mushrooms, eggs; and fortified foods like milk and cereals.
Include physical activities in your daily routine. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs can help you in building strong bones and slowing down bone loss.
Cut down on salt intake: Increased salt intake may contribute to decreasing calcium levels and increasing bone loss. Women, especially after menopause should consume less processed and canned foods which usually have high salt content.
Reduce caffeine intake: To maintain optimal calcium levels, it is advisable to consume caffeine in moderation, limiting intake to approximately two cups per day.
Taking Control of Your Bone Health
Seek guidance from your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your bone health or potential risk factors for osteoporosis. A consultation with your doctor may involve a bone density test to assess your bone density and rate of bone loss. Based on these results and considering your risk factors, your doctor can determine the ideal treatment plan to help slow down bone loss and promote bone health in your bodies.