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Stay Strong: 5 Ways to Maintain Bone Health as You Age

July 2, 2020
Published in: Primary Care

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Your bones are fascinating structures that give your body their shape and protect your organs. Anyone that has broken a bone knows how essential they are for everyday functioning. However, after age 30, your body begins losing bone mass faster than it grows new bone mass, which can ultimately lead to conditions like osteoporosis. While bone loss is typically a gradual process, it’s important to start planning for good bone health early! Luckily, there are many easy ways to start taking good care of your bones. Let’s take a look at five of them and learn more about the risk factors that impact bone health.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

Risk factors for osteoporosis include things we can’t change like race and family history. The good news is, there are several risk factors that you can change like tobacco use and activity level. Improving healthy behaviors can help offset the development of osteoporosis or its severity.

  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis because they have less bone tissue than men.
  • Family History: Having an immediate family member with a history of osteoporosis or bone fractures increases your risk.
  • Race: People of Caucasian and Asian descent are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
  • Tobacco Use: Smoking weakens your bones.
  • Alcohol Use: People that have daily alcohol drinks are at increased risk of osteoporosis. This equates to one alcoholic drink for women and two alcoholic drinks for men.
  • Activity Level: People that live a sedentary lifestyle are at greater risk for osteoporosis.
  • Diet: A diet that is low in calcium is a risk factor for osteoporosis.
  • Health Conditions: Conditions like bulimia, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, Cushing’s disease, and hormone conditions in men and women can damage bones. Some medications may also contribute to bone loss. Always check with your doctor about side effects.

Keep Bones Healthy by Focusing on What You Can Control

There are many positive actions you can take to keep your bones in good shape as you age. Remember to also check with your doctor about suggestions for maintaining your bone health and the potential impact of your specific health conditions and medications on your bone health.

Get enough calcium

Calcium is a mineral that does many useful functions in our body, including making our bones strong. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium is 1,000 milligrams for people ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70. For women over the age of 50 and for men over the ages of 70, 1,200 milligrams of calcium is recommended.

While calcium supplements can be helpful, it’s also important to try and get calcium through your diet. Foods like almonds, broccoli, eggs and cheese, tofu, and cabbage have high levels of calcium. Overall, try and incorporate a colorful array of vegetables into your diet to increase calcium levels.

Get enough Vitamin D

One of the functions of vitamin D is serving as an absorption portal for calcium. If you don’t have enough vitamin D, increasing your calcium intake won’t be effective. Adults ages 19 to 70 need 600 international units (IUs) per day. Adults over 70 need 800 IUs of vitamin D per day.

Supplements can aid in vitamin D levels as can foods found in your diet. Foods high in vitamin D include salmon, trout, tuna, mushrooms, and eggs. A well-rounded diet that includes vegetables, grains, and healthy fats provide many of the vitamins and minerals that are needed for optimal health.

Get moving

To build strong bones and slow bone loss, incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. This includes weight-bearing exercises like walking, climbing stairs, and working with weights or resistance bands.

Get enough to eat

It’s important to get enough healthy calories each day. At a minimum, you should eat 1,200 calories each day. Diets that dip below 1,200 calories are harmful for a variety of reasons, including damaging your bone health. Your muscle mass, vitamin and mineral absorption, and even mental health can be negatively impacted by not eating enough calories each day.

Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption

As few as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men amplifies your risk of osteoporosis. Smoking cigarettes has the side effect of
decreasing the blood supply to your bones.

While bone loss is a natural occurrence as you age, you can slow its progression and prevent it from turning into a more serious condition like osteoporosis. For more information about osteoporosis, begin by contacting your primary care provider.