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Bones are the substance that forms the skeleton of the body. They provide a rigid framework to your body and help you move around.
Though maintaining bone health is vital in all ages of life, it becomes more of a concern in older people and postmenopausal women because of the increased risk of bone loss. Weak and fragile bones (osteoporosis) are prone to fractures and may need surgery to heal.
Step 1: Boost your calcium levels
- Calcium forms the major component of strong bones.
- It has been found that Americans’ diets have insufficient daily calcium intake.
- Get your calcium and Vitamin D levels checked if you suspect your bones are weak.
- Postmenopausal women should make sure they get at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium from their daily diet.
- Consider taking calcium supplements, such as calcium carbonate or calcium citrate, if your diet fails to supply an adequate amount of calcium.
Step 2: Increase your Vitamin D levels
- Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.
- At a young age, our skin produces enough Vitamin D on exposure to the sun, but this capacity decreases with aging.
- Get your Vitamin D levels checked if reduced calcium levels are not improving even with an increase in your calcium intake.
- Spending time under the sun is one of the best ways to improve Vitamin D levels.
- Postmenopausal women should get at least 400 IU to 600 IU of Vitamin D daily for better bone health.
- Eat fatty fish, seafood, and look for foods fortified with Vitamin D.
Step 3: Consume enough protein
- Apart from calcium, your bones are also made up of protein.
- Inadequate protein intake harms bone health in the elderly.
- A higher protein diet increases a key chemical that enhances bone health, improves intestinal calcium absorption, and improves muscle strength and mass, all of which may benefit the skeleton.
- Eat high protein foods, such as lean meat, fish, eggs, and nuts.
Step 4: Include more veggies and fruits in your diet
- Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, some of which are necessary for bone healing after a fracture. They have been shown to increase bone mineral density (BMD).
- A study showed that a dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce your chances of getting broken bones, especially hip fractures.
- Replace the high-fat, sugar-loaded, and processed foods with vegetables and fruits.
Step 5: Be physically active: Load your skeleton
- A complete lack of activity causes bone loss.
- Continued physical activity stimulates the strengthening of bone and muscle.
- Putting pressure/stress on the bones to work through weight-bearing exercises strengthens them.
- You can start with simple activities like walking, jogging, or weight training exercises.
- You should engage in at least 30 minutes (adults) of moderate physical activity every day.
- Core strengthening exercises should also be a part of your exercises. These include abdominal exercises, lower back exercises, yoga, and tai chi.
Step 6: Cut back on smoking and alcohol
- Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to bone loss.
Step 7: Discuss with your doctor
- There are factors, such as certain medications you are taking for some other illness, that may weaken your bones. Some may cause dizziness and make you prone to falls. Talking about such things with your doctor can help prevent osteoporosis and fractures.
Asking some important questions to your doctor can help. Examples include:
- What is the best calcium to take?
- Am I taking on any medication that puts me at risk for falls or fractures?
- What should I do to prevent falls?
- What exercises are suitable for me and what are not?
Step 8: Take a BMD test
- A BMD test is the only way that measures your bone health and lets you know whether you are at risk for osteoporosis and fractures.
- You can ask your doctor if you can undergo a BMD test.
- A small, portable machine uses X-rays to capture the bones present at the far ends of your skeleton, such as those in your finger, wrist, or heel.
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Mangano KM, et al. Dietary protein is beneficial to bone health under conditions of adequate calcium intake: an update on clinical research. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014;17(1):69-74.
5 Lifestyle Steps for Better Bone Health. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/lifestyle-tips
7 Tips for Healthy Bones. Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-tips-for-healthy-bones-2/
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