Stronger bones mean a healthier you! Here are a few tips to strengthen your bones and keep osteoporosis at bay.
Eat for Your Bones. A poor diet doesn’t benefit any part of your body, and your bones are no exception. Be sure you are eating a well-rounded, balanced diet that provides the nutrients your body needs.
Eating for your bone health means choosing foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. This can include calcium-fortified foods and beverages, like enriched orange juice. It’s also important to limit the amount of soda you drink (or just cut it out completely). The phosphates in soft-drinks bind to and deplete calcium.
Better Bones Tip: Add a little dairy to each of your meals to boost your calcium intake. If you can’t eat dairy, incorporate high-calcium greens or sardines!
Calcium + Vitamin D. As I said above, calcium and vitamin D are vital for maintaining healthy bones. If you don’t think you’re getting enough of these from your diet, supplements are the way to go.
If you’re not getting enough calcium, your body will start to steal the mineral away from your bones, resulting in weaker and weaker bones! Adults need 1,200 mg to 1,500 mg of calcium per day. The body can’t absorb more than 1,500 mg, so don’t worry about taking any more than that. Also, the body needs to absorb calcium slowly, so don’t take more than 500 mg of calcium at one time.
While calcium is essential, it can be rendered useless without its partner, vitamin D. This vitamin is critical in the calcium absorption process. Without vitamin D, the body can’t use the calcium you consume, even if it’s the perfect amount. It’s estimated that about 10 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient. The good news is that vitamin D is everywhere!
In addition to daily vitamin D supplements, you can get your daily dose from going out in the sun. Vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin when exposed to sunlight. 2000 IU is a good daily dose if you take vitamin D supplements (which you’ll probably need to do during winter months). On a sunny day, ten minutes outside in shorts and t-shirt will do the trick!
Better Bones Tip: Choose a calcium supplement for daily use and spend a little time in the sun.
Keep Moving! It’s just like the saying goes﹘ a body in motion stays in motion. Exercising helps to preserve bone density and maintain muscle strength. If you are constantly sedentary, your body signals to your bones that they no longer need to be strong. Be sure to incorporate weight-bearing exercises in your daily routine.
Start today! Think about activities you enjoy. Things like weight training, walking, hiking, running, biking or dancing all benefit your bones!
Keep an Eye on Your Vices. Everyone has their vices, but some are worse for your bones than others. Smoking is toxic to your bones and has been proven to contribute to one’s risk for osteoporosis. Consuming too much alcohol can also be detrimental to your bone health. It’s been shown that drinking three or more alcoholic beverages a day can accelerate your bone loss and increase your risk of recurring injuries.
Better Bones Tip: If you smoke, make a plan to stop. Talk to your doctor and build a support system. Try to limit your drinking to one alcoholic beverage per day or less.