Four Ways to Help Maintain Healthy Bones
As we age, bone health becomes increasingly important. Older adults often experience bone loss (low bone density that makes the bones weaker), which leads to increased risk of fractures. Luckily, to help combat this risk, there are habits and behaviors you can adopt to help protect your bone health. Here’s four ways for older adults to help maintain healthy bones:
Include physical activity in your daily routine
Those that are physically inactive are at higher risk of osteoporosis (a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle) compared to those that are more physically active. To help promote new bone growth and maintain existing bone density, doctors recommend physical activities, such as strength training and weight bearing exercises. For older adults, this translates to incorporating walking (whether leisurely or at a brisk pace) and using light dumbbells if possible.
Eat high-calcium foods throughout the day
Calcium is the main mineral in your bones, and the most important mineral for bone health. A diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. Therefore, it’s important to eat high-calcium foods throughout the day. For men ages 51-70, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. That recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women age 51 and older and for men age 71 and older.
Maintain a stable, healthy weight
People who are underweight have a higher risk of developing bone disease, while excess body weight places added stress on a person’s bones. Dieting — and regularly gaining or losing weight — also places undue stress on your bone health. Additionally, low body weight is the main contributing factor for reduced bone density and bone loss in postmenopausal women, due to the loss of the bone-protecting effects of estrogen. This is why the best way to maintain healthy bones is to maintain a stable, healthy weight for your body.
Get plenty of Vitamin D and Vitamin K
Vitamin D and Vitamin K are both important when it comes to building strong bones. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, while Vitamin K-2 aids in reducing calcium loss and helping minerals bind to the bone. You can get Vitamin D with plenty of sunlight exposure, as well as through a diet full of oily fish, mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods, such as milk and cereal. You can get Vitamin K-2 from foods such as dairy products (especially hard cheeses), fermented foods such as sauerkraut, natto (a Japanese soybean product), egg yolks, and chicken. You can also consult your doctor about taking vitamin supplements.
With the right adjustments to your regular routine, you can help maintain healthy bones and enjoy the perks of a healthier fitness and food regimen.