As I've gotten older, I've had to consider more seriously illnesses and ailments that I hadn't paid much attention to before. One of these ailments is osteoporosis.
- Affects 1 in 3 American women and 1 in 5 American men over 50.
- Leaves bones more prone to fracture and breakage.
- Is the leading cause of bone breakage in older adults.
Osteoporosis, literally "porous bones," occurs when the rate of bone lost outstrips new bone growth. In fact, osteoporosis can become so severe that a mere stumble or cough has the potential to fracture bones.
Many of us fail to realize that our bones continuously grow and rejuvenate themselves, much in the same way our muscles do. While we tailor our diets and exercise routines to build strong muscles, we don't similarly consider the best way to build strong bones. However, it is absolutely essential to care for our bones as diligently as we care for our muscles.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps we can take to both prevent osteoporosis when we're young, and to prevent and possibly arrest bone loss when we're older:
- Make sure you're getting enough calcium: We all know that calcium is the key to building strong bones, but we sometimes neglect to get the appropriate amount of calcium in our daily diets. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends people under 50 get 1,000 mg of calcium per day. People over 50 should consume 1,200 mg.
- Diversify your calcium sources: A glass of raw milk contains around 300 mg of calcium, which means you'd need to drink 3-4 glasses to get your recommended daily calcium supply. That's a lot of milk. Luckily, there are entrees, veggies and snacks that are loaded with calcium. Sardines, and salmon are excellent sources, as are green and leafy veggies (kale and broccoli). As a snack, replenish your calcium supply with an orange or a handful of almonds.
- Make sure you're getting your daily dose of Vitamins D & K: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, while Vitamin K (K2, specifically) directs that calcium directly to your bones. Both are absolutely essential for your body to effectively use the calcium you're giving it. The best thing about Vitamin D? You can get it merely by walking out your front door! Sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D, as are oysters, eggs and shrimp. Vitamin K2 is trickier. While you can get it in many of the leafy veggies that also supply calcium, a supplement may be necessary to ensure you're getting the benefit.
- Exercise!: The effect exercise has on maintaining and improving your bones cannot be overstated. Bone density is massively improved with exercise, as is bone strength. In fact, exercise may even reduce bone loss! Aim for 30 minutes a day of weight bearing activity (walking, jogging, biking) along with weight training. In addition to bone density, your balance and posture will both improve.
Incorporating calcium and weight bearing exercise into your health and wellness routine will ensure you're able to stand tall well into your later years.