You don’t normally wake up in the morning thinking, “Are my bones fine today?” Truth is, you rarely brood over that part of your body, well, until you fall and break a leg or get a painful feeling in the limbs. However, it’s never too early to start taking care of your skeleton – the sooner you do it, the better. As age advances, you will find that this has been a wise decision. Supposing you haven’t been very devoted to this task lately, here is what you can do to keep your bones strong and healthy.
What Is Bone Density?
In case you didn’t know, the bones are mostly made of collagen for flexibility and softness. Yet, they also contain calcium phosphate so that they are strong and able to withstand stress. Bone density is the actual amount of calcium and other minerals available in a single segment. Using this information, doctors can identify how likely you are to get a fracture. The smaller the quantity, the more vulnerable you are to breaking a limb.
Can Bone Density Increase After a Certain Age?
This is not likely to happen. Generally speaking, bone growth happens during childhood and adolescence. Then, after the age of 30, you gradually begin to lose density. That being said, you can keep your skeletal system healthy by eating certain foods and maintaining your physique. Let’s look at the options.
Calcium Helps to Keep Your Bones Strong
You’ve probably heard that calcium is essential for maintaining the density of bones. Therefore, the lack of said mineral can greatly impact your strength and increase the risk of fractures. To up your intake, make sure you add the following foods to your diet (that is if you haven’t done so already): dairy products, cheese, seeds, almonds, lentils, beans, salmon, etc.
To check your calcium levels, you need to do blood tests, which means you ought to go to your doctor. Only a specialist can determine what is the right way to address the situation.
How much calcium do you need in your diet?
The average adult needs about 1,000 mg of calcium a day and this amount might have to be readjusted to 1,200 for when they get past 50s.
Should I take calcium supplements?
Only if is absolutely necessary at the time. There are a couple of cases in which this scenario can happen:
- Your body isn’t capable of absorbing calcium from food. The reason for this might be vitamins D or K2 deficiency. The former helps to keep calcium at normal levels. The latter is designated to regulate the proper transportation of the mineral to different parts of the body. If that’s what’s causing the problem, you’ll need to fix the intake of either vitamin.
- Too much oxalic acid can interfere with calcium absorption. Foods that contain the acid in question include sweet potatoes, collard greens, beans, rhubarb, and spinach.
High amounts of phytic acid can prevent the mineral from being absorbed well. It is found in whole-grain products and legumes (peas, soybeans, lentils).
- Some medication like corticosteroids might hamper proper calcium absorption.
It is best to consult with a specialist such as your GP or an endocrinologist about that. Taking supplements doesn’t mean you don’t need to watch your diet anymore. In fact, it is much better to ensure you are eating foods that will give you all the right nutrients than to rely on mere pills. Washing down synthetic vitamins and minerals with a glass of water can aid in your nutrition plan if you are deficient in those, but it can never substitute a balanced diet.
Vitamin D Plays a Role in Calcium Absorption
Vitamin D, and specifically vitamin D3, which is the active form, is another nutrient that counts when it comes to maintaining bone health. You seldom have to worry about how much of it you have in your system unless it’s winter. As you know, the fastest way to get the recommended amount is through sun exposure. When the ultraviolet beams come into contact with the skin, it makes vitamin D.
However, as the days get shorter, you are suddenly faced with less light, which can affect your ability to produce the substance. To ensure its levels are in check, diet comes into play. Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, cheese, fatty fish, beef liver, and products fortified with vitamin D3. And if that doesn’t do the trick, you can try supplements.
How much vitamin D do you need?
An average adult would benefit the most from 10 mg a day, but the amount might vary slightly per person due to individual body requirements.
What about vitamin D supplements?
The same logic as that for calcium and vitamins applies here. Healthy eating is always a better option than relying on synthetic nutrients.
Vitamin K2 Sends Calcium Where It Belongs
There is no doubt that calcium is paramount for the body, but too much of it hanging around in your system is no good either. It can be especially detrimental to the blood vessels, affecting their elasticity and obstructing blood flow.
Luckily, nature has thought this through. There is a special vitamin that works to regulate calcium and make sure it goes in the right places. This is vitamin K2. Studies have shown that the presence of this nutrient into the body decreases the risks of cardiovascular problems. It helps to transport the mineral to all organs that need it, preventing it from building up in heart valves, arteries, cartilage, and other soft tissue.
Be it as it may, the modern diet does not contain sufficient amounts of said vitamin, which puts the majority of people at risk for improper calcium regulation. When this happens, the bones and other structures become weak and stop working normally. Hence, it is of great significance to keep your levels of vitamin K topped up.
Physical Activity is Crucial for Your Wellbeing
No matter how old you are, you should try your hardest to keep your muscles and skeleton in good shape. With age, it can become difficult to perform certain activities, but that doesn’t mean you ought to stop working out. The best way to go is to try different kinds of weight-bearing exercises like walking, hiking, dancing, playing tennis, and lifting heavy objects. If some of these seem too challenging, you can stick with carrying your groceries, pushing a lawn mower, and going up and downstairs.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to do activities that improve stiffness, balance, and coordination, which also reduces the risk of falls. You can never go wrong with yoga and tai chi. Not only will they make you more flexible, but they can ease joint pain.
Bad Habits Can Affect the Skeleton
And finally, some rituals you do throughout the day may be bad for your bones. Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes, alone or together, are no good for different reasons. There is hardly any need to explain why they are harmful to your overall health, but let’s make it clear as to how they interfere with the skeleton. Having one too many can decrease bone density, while smoking contributes to faster loss of tissue. And drinking a lot of coffee reduces the amount of calcium your body absorbs. Not fun. All of these factors can lead to osteoporosis and other diseases, hence, you should try and limit them.
The Bottom Line
There is a way to keep your bones strong as age goes up, but that involves dedicating to having a better lifestyle. Adding adequate sources of calcium and other nutrients to your diet, staying active, and keeping bad habits out of the way will definitely prove effective.