There are several steps that you can take to start improving your bone health today! For some, making these changes will be enough to completely protect your bones from osteoporosis. For others, especially for those with a family history of the disease or who have already been diagnosed with low bone density, this will slow the progression of the disease, but you may not be able to fully prevent osteoporosis.
Want to learn more? Continue reading to discover a 6 step process that will begin strengthening your bones today!
The link between nutrition and your bones is undeniable. Making smart decisions in the kitchen can pay dividends when it comes to your bone strength and composition. Much of this advice may seem like common sense, but reinforcing healthy habits may be the motivation that you need to stick to a bone healthy diet. Consider these facts when you plan your next meal.
- You should eat a well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and lean protein.
- More fruits and vegetables in your diet will lead to stronger bones.
- Protein is beneficial for bone health and maintaining strong muscles. Aim for lean protein sources including chicken, fish, and pork.
- Regularly drinking cola beverages and eating processed foods can weaken your bones.
If you follow step 1, then you are already on the right path to dramatically increasing your daily intake of vitamins and minerals which have been linked to healthy bones. Research has shown that nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins (A,B,C,E,K), magnesium, potassium, flavonoids, and carotenoids may help in the prevention of osteoporosis. You should strive to get as much of these nutrients as you can through your diet, but supplements are an acceptable alternative. Aim for the following daily intake of these important bone nutrients.
- Calcium: 1200 mg
- Vitamin D: 800-1000 IU
- Vitamin K2: 200 mcg
- Potassium: 4700 mg
- Magnesium: 325 mg
- Vitamin C: 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women
- Vitamin E: 15 mg
- Selenium: 55 mcg
Having a hard time getting the recommended amount of these bone-healthy vitamins and minerals? Consider adding a supplement to make sure that your bones are protected. Visit the store to browse a selection of recommended vitamin supplements.
Strong bones aren’t built sitting on the couch. Regular physical activity and weight bearing exercise has been shown to improve bone strength. The concept is fairly simple, and you’ve probably already seen it in action! For example, you may have noticed how stressing muscles over time with exercise can improve muscle size, strength and function. The same can be said for your bones! With a variety of exercises available, you will have no problem finding several that you can incorporate into your weekly routine. Here are some guidelines to consider when planning your next workout.
- As always, consult your medical provider before starting a new exercise program.
- The ultimate goal is to perform weight bearing exercise for a total of 150 minutes each week. When broken down by day, you should aim for 30 minute workouts, 5 times per week.
- Research has shown that different exercise programs including brisk walking, body weight exercises, and weightlifting can improve bone density by 3.2% compared to those who do not exercise.
- Exercise can improve muscle strength, coordination, and balance—all of which can decrease your risk of falling.
You probably already know that certain lifestyle choices including smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are bad for your health… but did you know that they are bad for your bones as well? Smoking one pack of cigarettes per day in adult life can decrease your bone density by 10%! Likewise, consuming 3 or more alcoholic beverages most days can increase your risk of osteoporosis-related fractures by 40%! The negative impact of tobacco and alcohol on your bones can be reversed when they are stopped, so use this as the motivation you need to kick these bad habits today!
Technically, preventing falls will not prevent osteoporosis. But it plays such an important role in preventing broken bones that it cannot be overlooked. This one isn’t rocket science… since most bones break during a fall, it makes sense that preventing falls will protect your bones.
- The first step is knowing what causes falls! Fortunately, everything you need to know about falls and how to prevent them can be found in the fall prevention section of this website. Falling should never be downplayed as an inevitable part of getting older.
- Some changes that occur in your body as you age may affect your balance, but other causes of falls can be completely avoided!
- If you fall frequently, it’s time to make some changes. Physical therapy programs focusing on balance can reduce your risk of falling, as can walkers and canes.
- One study showed that vitamin D deficiency led to muscle weakness in certain people, and once vitamin D levels were restored to normal, the risk of falling dramatically decreased!
How do you know if all of your hard work is paying off? If you really want to know where you stand, then it’s time to get a bone density scan (known as a DEXA scan). The DEXA scan can accurately measure your bone density, and it is an important risk factor that we use to calculate your risk of breaking bones and monitor changes in your bones over time. Everyone at risk for osteoporosis should have their bone density measured every 2 years.
- If your bone density remains stable or improves over time, keep doing what you are doing!
- If your bone density goes down, then it might be time to reassess and make adjustments to your lifestyle as necessary.
There you have it, the six step process to preventing osteoporosis and decreasing your risk of breaking bones! Are you craving even more information? Click the links in each section for in-depth articles relating to those topics. Can’t find what you are looking for? Ask the expert!