Are you taking care of your bones as you age? Bone loss increases your risk of fractures, so use these five tips to help give yourself better bone health.
Bone Density 101
Peak bone density is achieved around age 30. The thicker and stronger your bones are at that time, the longer it takes for bone loss and eventual osteoporosis to set in. Once you pass 30, bone loss is inevitable. However, there are things you can do to help slow the progression of bone loss and keep yourself stronger and healthier as you age.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
Some risk factors for osteoporosis are genetic, but others are lifestyle oriented. You might be at higher risk for rapid bone loss and osteoporosis if you:
- Are a woman (women typically have less bone tissue than men, and after age 50 your risk goes up even more)
- Have a close family member with osteoporosis or bone fractures (bone health risks run in families)
- Use tobacco or drink daily (tobacco and heavy alcohol use have been linked to weaker bones and a higher incidence of fractures)
- Don’t get a lot of exercise (low activity levels can also increase your risk for bone loss and weaken your bone structure)
- Eat a diet low in calcium and other bone-building nutrients (failure to add the right things to your diet can mean you lose bone faster)
There are several things you can do to keep your bones in good shape as you age.
- Get the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Try foods like tofu, broccoli, dairy, cabbage, eggs, and almonds, and supplement with calcium tablets if necessary. Aim for:
- 1,000 milligrams for people ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70
- 1,200 milligrams for women over the age of 50 and for men over the age of 70
- Get the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D. Calcium won’t absorb into your body correctly without enough D. Try foods like salmon, trout, tuna, mushrooms, and eggs. Aim for:
- 600 international units (IUs) per day for adults aged 19-70
- 800 IUs a day for adults over age 70
- Exercise as much as possible every day. Even if you have arthritis or another condition that makes working out difficult, talk to your doctor about exercising to strengthen your bones. Try exercises like:
- Climbing stairs or using a stair-stepper
- Using an exercise bicycle
- Weight or resistance training
- Eat enough to grow your bones. Don’t diet for long periods of time if the diet requires less than 1200 calories a day (always consult your doctor first). Make sure you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs. This is extremely important if you are under thirty and still trying to reach peak bone mass.
- Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol consumption. Smoking decreases blood supply to your bones, and even one drink a day every day if you’re a woman (two if you’re a man) can add to your risk of osteoporosis.
Want more information on how to prevent normal bone loss from turning into a more serious condition like osteoporosis? Contact our office for a consultation with Dr. Scott Strasburger.