3 Effective Tips To Protect Your Bones

Saturday 29 September 2012

Our bones are living tissues, comprising mainly calcium and protein. If more bone calcium is being absorbed into the body than is replaced, the density (bone mass) is gradually reduced, the bone becomes weaker, increasing the risk that it may break. Osteoporosis develops when bone is no longer replaced as quickly as it is removed.

50% of women and 25% of men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. While gradual loss of bone mass is a fact of life for everyone, it's never too late to take steps that will protect our bones.

The amount of bone mass you obtain while you are young determines your skeletal health for the rest of your life. Meaning the more bone mass you have when you are young, the more protection you have against losing bone mass later.

Here are some tips to help children develop maximum bone mass, and help adults slowdown its loss.

1. Get adequate calcium and vitamin D

99% of the body's calcium is stored in the bones and teeth - a "bone bank". Calcium is "withdrawn" from the bone bank daily to support some vital body functions. If sufficient calcium is not "deposited" back via diet, the bones become deficient in calcium and eventually weaken.

The US Institute of Medicine recommends the following amounts of daily calcium from food and supplements:
  • 1 to 3 years old - 500mg
  • 4 to 8 years old - 800mg
  • 9 to 18 years old - 1,300mg
  • 19 to 50 years old 1,000mg
  • more than 51 years old - 1,200mg
Sources of calcium
Dairy products, almonds, broccoli, spinach, cooked kale, sardines, soy products eg. tofu.

Excessive consumption of calcium doesn't provide additional benefits and may even be harmful.

Vitamin D helps the body use calcium. The US National Institutes of Health recommends 400-600 IU (international units) of vitamin D for children and 600-800 IU for adults.

Sources of vitamin D
Sunlight, fortified milk, tuna, sardines, egg yolks.

2. Exercise

Both strength training and weight bearing exercises are important.
Strength training exercise strengthens muscles and bones in the arms and upper spine.
Weight bearing exercises (walking, jogging, running, stair-climbing) strengthens bones in the legs, hips and lower spine.
Cardiovascular workout (swimming, cycling) are less helpful for improving bone health than weight-bearing exercises.

3. Avoid smoking and regular alcohol consumption

The precise medical causes have not been identified, but researchers find that these 2 activities also contribute to weak bones.

Additional risk factors include family history, some medical conditions and certain medications.

To assess the health of your bones, you can take the bone density test known as DXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry). It takes 5 to 10 minutes and uses very little radiation. The T-score falls into 3 categories:
  • normal density
  • osteopenia (low density)
  • osteoporosis
(Source: Five tips to protect your bones, Dr Jean Park, HealthNewsDigest.com)

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