Bones are dense and can withstand much force. Old bones are broken down by the body and replaced with new bones. However, bones can weaken from factors such as a lack of calcium and a sedentary lifestyle.
The things you do for better bone health are an investment. While most bone issues are associated with aging, the habits you develop when you are young can affect bone health in the future.
In this article, we are going to talk about the building blocks of healthy bones, osteoporosis in old age, and several useful tips for preventing it.
Why is Bone Health Important?
Bone health is important because it affects your posture, mobility, and ability to perform daily activities. Healthy bones are characterized by having optimal density, strength, and structure. Bones need minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus, in order to make them strong and resilient, and go through normal bone growth and remodeling processes.
It is best to adopt bone-building habits early to ensure that you maximize your bone density and prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis. Starting to build a stronger skeleton should begin in childhood. If you haven’t been eating and exercising to support bone health, it’s time to start now.
What is Osteoporosis? Can it be Prevented?
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and brittle due to a loss of bone mass growth. The breaking down of old bone mass outpaces the rebuilding of new bone mass, which causes the bone to develop larger holes and become hollow. The outer layer of the bone also becomes thinner, putting you at greater risk for fractures.
Osteoporosis is associated with aging, hormonal changes (menopause), and certain medical conditions and medications. It does not usually cause symptoms, and for most people, a broken bone is the first sign of the disease. A loss of height, changes in natural posture, lower back pain, and shortness of breath can also be caused by osteoporosis.
Preventing or slowing the progression of osteoporosis comes down to lifestyle.
What are Useful Tips for Preventing Osteoporosis?
Females, those over the age of 50, and individuals with a family history of osteoporosis are at risk for the disease.
If you want to support bone health, below are several useful tips:
1. Eat a Calcium-Rich Diet
Food can be a good source of calcium. Try incorporating the following into your diet:
- Leafy greens
For people who have dietary restrictions and are unable to make some changes, supplementation may help.
2. Take Calcium Supplements
Calcium is essential for building strong bones. Adults under the age of 50 should aim for 1000 mg of calcium per day, while those over 50 should aim for 1200 mg per day. However, check with your doctor before taking calcium supplements.
3. Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced by the body when exposed to sunlight and is essential for calcium absorption. Studies show sensible sun exposure, between 5 to 10 minutes several times a week, plus eating vitamin D-rich foods, such as fatty fish, and supplementation can help with vitamin D sufficiency.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps build strong bones. A combination of weight-bearing exercises (racketball, stair-climbing, brisk-walking), resistance training exercises (using weights and resistance bands), and balance training (Tai chi, lunges, and step-ups) all contribute to better bone health and lower fracture risk.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking is associated with lower bone density and can interfere with the absorption of nutrients that help make stronger bones.
6. Limit Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol can also prevent the absorption of calcium. Studies suggest that moderate alcohol intake, 1-2 drinks per day for men and up to 1 drink per day for women, may be safer for bone health.
7. Talk to Your Doctor About a Bone Density Test or a DEXA Scan
A bone density test measures bone mineral density and is used to diagnose osteoporosis and determine fracture risk.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends osteoporosis screening in women under the age of 65 if considered high-risk and 65 years and older for those of average risk.
Males between the ages of 50 and 69 with risk factors and 70 years or older of average risk should get screened for osteoporosis.
Orthopedic Doctors in Hartford County, CT & Springfield, MA
The orthopedic doctors at Advanced Orthopedics New England can serve all your orthopedic needs and help you achieve your objectives – from building and maintaining stronger bones to receiving expert treatment for trauma and fractures.
We listen to our patients and create treatment plans that are comprehensive and designed to improve their lives. To schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, call our office near you or use our online form to send a request.