Let’s talk bone health! Most people think that only adults over 50 have to worry about bone health and osteoporosis but the truth is we need to think about our bone health starting at a very young age. For most of us, we will reach our peak bone mass by the time we are 30 and between the ages of 10 and 20 we can greatly increase our peak bone mass.
As we age, we do lose bone mass however people who work to develop higher peak bone mass when they are young have a better chance of protecting themselves against osteoporosis and fractures later in life. In an article written by Orthoinfo it was stated that, “There is a limited time that we can influence our peak bone mass. The best time to build bone density is during the years of rapid growth. Childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood are the times when we can significantly increase our peak bone mass through diet and exercise. Not surprisingly, we can also make choices that decrease peak bone mass, such as smoking, poor nutrition, inactivity and excessive alcohol intake.”
Although there are some factors that are out of our control when it comes to our bone health such as genetics, hormones and aging there are many things we can do to help ensure our bones are in good condition as we age.
As we all know calcium is an essential mineral for bone health. The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that people between 10 to 20 years of age need at least 1,300 mg of calcium each day, the equivalent of: one cup of calcium fortified orange juice, 2 cups of milk and one cup of yogurt. Other sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, fish and tofu.
Between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age people require 1,000 mg of calcium daily to help minimize bone loss. This same amount is recommended for men over 50 however, it is recommended that women over 50 increase their calcium intake to 1,200 mg to help add protection during the years of menopause when low estrogen levels result in rapid bone loss.
Along with adequate amounts of calcium it is recommended that people ensure they are getting enough Vitamin D as it plays an important role in bone health. The optimal amount of Vitamin D can be difficult to achieve through food alone so talk to your health care provider about vitamin D supplementation and the proper amount for you and your family.
In addition to eating adequate amounts of fresh fruits and veggies and protein each day exercise is also important at every age for healthy bones. Exercise increases muscle strength, coordination and balance. Bone is living tissue and it responds well to exercise particularly weight-bearing and resistance exercises. Examples of weight bearing exercises include power walking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis etc. Examples of resistance exercises include lifting weights, using elastic resistance bands or using your own body weight (ie. push-ups).
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends about 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises on most days of the week and strength training at least 2 times per week. It is important to consult a health professional before you start an exercise program to ensure it is appropriate for your health and osteoporosis risk factors.
If you have an osteoporosis related fracture or even just want to be proactive to help prevent damage to your bones you can book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists at A Body In Motion Rehabilitation. Your physiotherapist will create a treatment plan with appropriate bone strengthening exercises. He or she will also help you improve your posture and balance which will help take stress off your spine and also prevent falling.
Bone health is something we all need to think about at every stage of life. If you have questions or concerns about your bone health or want to see a physiotherapist for guidance on an exercise program don’t hesitate to reach out to us….we’d be happy to help!!
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National Institute of Health (NIH) (Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium); Institute of Medicine of the national Academies (Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D)
Strength-training and Weight-bearing Exercises For Bone Health, Daniel J. Toft MD, PhD