Our bones hold us up and their health is important to our general health, but we usually don't think about them much until one of them breaks. Why is thinking about bone health important? Because brittle bones can lead to a range of other health issues, and unfortunately the older you get, the more common bone issues are. Oesteoporosis affects half of women in later life, which can lead to falls and fractures. Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase your bone health and reduce the risk of oesteoporosis. That's why today we're challenging you to take a closer look at your bone health and learn about what you can do to make sure they stay strong for decades to come.
Calcium is very important in maintaining our bone health. The current recommendation is for women over the age of 40 to have a daily target intake of 1200 mg of calcium. Most of us think of milk when we think of calcium and while it is true that dairy products have high levels of calcium per serving, other foods also have calcium. For instance, firm tofu, spinach, bok choy, and mustard greens, beans, almonds and almond milk, fish with edible bones, such as sardines or tinned salmon, and many fortified cereals and juices can be just as beneficial for bone health.
Additionally, the Institute of Bone Health developed a calculator to measure your weekly intake of calcium so you can determine whether you need to adjust how much calcium you are consuming to improve your bone health. You can try it out here.
If it turns out you are not getting enough calcium, you can consider changing your diet or you can talk to a healthcare professional about taking a calcium supplement.
Sufficient vitamin D levels are necessary for calcium absorption in your gut from the foods you eat. If levels of vitamin D are low, you won’t be absorbing enough nutrients from your diet, no matter how many leafy greens you eat. This means your body has to find alternative sources of calcium to compensate. There is a hormone called the parathyroid hormone, which is released when this happens. Bones are the largest reservoir of calcium in the body, but when parathyroid hormone is released, it forces bones to release their calcium stores, accelerating bone loss. This is why adequate vitamin D levels are so important, and taking 800-1000IU of supplements is recommended during and after menopause. Oily fish, egg yolks, liver and some breakfast cereals are a good source of vitamin D from your diet.
And of course, we all know sunshine is a source of vitamin D. However, it is very hard to get adequate vitamin D from the sun in winter months. That is because the angle of Earth changes and the sun is further away.
Exercise is important to keep your bones strong. Our bones become stronger when a certain amount of impact or extra strain is placed on them, so it is important to have the right kind of exercise. This is either weight bearing exercise, which is done with your body weight, or resistance training, for which weights are used. Putting weight through the bones helps increase bone density by reducing the air pockets that make bones more fragile. It's important to remember to exercise the upper body, too, which can often be neglected even by women who often do lower body exercises like jogging. To get the most out of this, make sure to exercise regularly and with varied routines.
Taking care of your bones is super important for later life health. Here are the takeaway tips from us: