Apart from their key structural function, bones are also a body’s reservoir of essential minerals. The bone structure plays an instrumental role in maintaining good health and longevity. In fact, keeping our bones healthy is the first step to maintaining a healthy immune system. Most of us pay attention to our bones during later years or if we develop alarming bone health-related symptoms, but taking care of our bone health from a young age will go a long way in ensuring great health as we age.
Why Pay Attention to Bone Health When You Are Young?
When we are young, our bones are in a continuous state of change called remodeling, where old bones break down and new ones take their place. As we age, we lose more bone mass than we gain. The problems in bone health that older people develop are directly related to the bone mass accumulated at 30 years of age. This emphasizes the need to ensure additional efforts to build and maintain bone health from a young age.
Factors that Affect Bone Heath
- Age: Bones usually become weaker and thinner as we age.
- Gender: Women are at a higher risk of bone loss as they have lesser bone tissue than men.
- Physical activity: People leading sedentary lifestyles are at a higher risk of bone diseases than their physically active counterparts.
- Calcium in the diet: A diet which is low in calcium leads to reduced bone mass, earlier bone loss, and thereby leading to increased risk of fractures.
- Alcohol and tobacco use: Consuming alcohol regularly and usage of tobacco products lead to weak bones.
- Hormonal changes: At menopause, bone loss increases dramatically. Low testosterone levels in men is also a cause for bone loss.
- Medication: Long term use of steroids damages the bones.
How to Keep Your Bones Healthy
Include plenty of calcium in the diet: Foods with a rich source of calcium are dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, salmon, sardines, and soy products such as tofu.
For adults between 19 to 50 years and men between 51 to 70 years, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women over 50 years and for men over 70 years.
Pay attention to Vitamin D: Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Good sources of Vitamin D include oily fish, such as tuna and sardines, egg yolks, and fortified milk. Sunlight also contributes to the body’s production of Vitamin D.
For adults between 19 to 70 years, the RDA of Vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs a day for adults aged 71 years and older.
Include physical activity in your daily routine: Weight-bearing exercises, such as jogging, walking, tennis and even climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.
Avoid substance abuse: This includes excessive alcohol intake on a regular basis, tobacco use, medicine abuse, and narcotic substances as well.