We tend to think of bone health as an issue for older people only. The truth is, we need to pay attention to bone health regardless of our age. Throughout our lifetime, we make new bone and lose old bone. Children and young adults make more bone than they lose. Beginning in childhood, our bones keep getting denser, until at some point in our late teen to mid-twenties, our bones are at the most dense that they will ever be. This is called Peak Bone Mass (PBM). Ideally, by this point, our bones are dense enough that we will not suffer from weak bones as we age and begin to make less bone. Therefore, these bone-making years are crucial.
Feed your bones
Calcium and Vitamin D are very important for bone health. Other important nutrients for bone health are Vitamin k, Potassium, Magnesium and Vitamin C. Five or more servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily will help us maintain overall health, including bone health.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommendations for daily calcium intake are:
Ages 1-3 700mg
Ages 9-18 1300mg
Ages 19+ 1000mg
Age 50+ women 1200mg
Age 70+ men 1200mg
Vitamin D is just as important because it enables our bodies to absorb calcium. NOF recommends that adults under the age of 50 years get 400-800 International Units (IU) of Vitamin D daily and that those over the age of 50 get 800-1000 IUs daily. Our skin makes some of the Vitamin D we need when exposed to sunlight, but be careful not to expose your skin to too much sun without protection. We can get some Vitamin D from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if you need a Vitamin D supplement, for instance if you are over the age of 60, if you don’t get much sun.
Combined with a healthy diet, exercise strengthens our bones. Children and teens need to get at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Exercise is important for adult’s bone health as well. Studies have shown that adults who exercise have more bone mass than those who do not. The two best types of exercise for your bones are weight-bearing exercises such as dancing, hiking, jogging, jumping rope, tennis and fast walking; and muscle-strengthening exercises such as lifting weights or lifting your own body weight. A good plan might be to do 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise five days a week and muscle strengthening exercise twice a week. Start slow if you haven’t exercised in a while; for instance by walking. Consult your healthcare provider regarding the best exercise program if you have Osteoporosis or any other health issue.