When we think about important parts of our body, it’s oftentimes our heart and our brain that come to mind first. One part of the body that people often overlook in importance is our bones.
As we age, our bones weaken over time. Because of this weakening, some people may develop a bone density lower than normal. This is called Osteopenia, Osteopenia doesn’t have any symptoms, and can’t be detected unless your doctor performs a special test called a bone density test.
Osteopenia can progress to a more severe form of bone density loss called osteoporosis. With osteoporosis, your bones become so weakened that they are easily broken. Osteoporosis can develop at any age, but is most common in women over the age of 65.
Because our bones weaken over time, we should all take steps to help strengthen them in order to help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis. Some of these steps could include:
Weight-bearing exercises are great for strengthening our bones. Just like our muscles, bones get strengthened from being used.
Weight-bearing exercises include things like walking, running, hiking, dancing, or playing tennis. Pick your favorite activity, and see if you can get a friend to join you for some additional fun!
Exercises such as swimming or yoga are great for muscle building, cardiovascular health, and balance, but they are not as effective for building bone strength. They are great forms of exercise, but it’s important to add exercises that are weight-bearing in order to create a well-rounded exercise regimen.
Add Bone-Healthy Foods to your Diet
A diet that will support your bone health should include foods rich in Calcium, and Vitamin D and protein.
Calcium is a key component of your bones. Your bones are made of a number of components, but two of the major players are collagen (which is a form of protein) and calcium, which is a mineral that gives bones their hardness. Foods high in calcium include dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheeses. Other foods high in calcium include soybeans, tofu, broccoli and foods fortified with calcium such as orange juice, oatmeal or cereals.
In order for your body to properly absorb calcium, you also need to consume enough Vitamin D. You can get Vitamin D a couple of different ways. One of the easiest is through sunlight! So, get outside and soak up some sunshine. During the winter months you’re not likely to get enough Vitamin D from sunshine alone, so it’s recommended that you get Vitamin D from foods and / or a supplement. Foods high in Vitamin D include egg yolks, fish, and products fortified with vitamin D such as fortified milk and cereals.
- “Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age”. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, National Institutes of Health. October 2018.
- “Exercise for Your Bone Health” NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, National Institutes of Health. October 2018.
- “Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment” Ortho Info, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. November 2021.