You often hear “the bones are good” when people talk about the value of a house. It’s to say the structure is sound, that it can stand up to what it may face, that it can protect those who live there. Well, the same goes for when the actual bones in your body are healthy. They can protect you from falls and fractures, and support all the functions of your body.
Let’s talk about those bones. Did you know your skeleton rebuilds itself as we age? That right, about every 10 years, our bones regenerate where new bone tissue replaces the old. As we age, though, the amount of new bone can decrease, resulting in bone loss which leads to weaker bones, increasing the risk for fractures. Thankfully, there are proactive measures we can take to better balance the process and protect our bones.
Understand your risks for bone loss
Many individual factors can affect bone density, namely age, family history, weight and related health issues. Age: The older you get the more bone loss is projected to occur. Women, in particular, experience rapid loss following menopause, putting them at risk for osteoporosis. Family History: Bone mass is determined by our genes, so it’s important for this and other reasons to have a good understanding of your family medical history. Weight: Overweight adults are at higher risk for falls which can lead to bone breaks, and being underweight can increase bone loss and risk of fractures. Health Issues: If you have diabetes, an autoimmune disease, or are taking medications that are known to cause bone loss, be sure to discuss your risks with your doctor.
The right combination of vitamins and nutrients is needed to promote healthy bones. We hear much about the importance of calcium for bone health, which is for good reason. Calcium is stored in our bones. When our body does not have enough to function, it will steal some from its storage in, you guessed it, the bones. So load up on green leafy vegetables and dairy products, and try supplements if you need increase your daily dosage. And grab some water instead of soda, specifically, since they decrease calcium absorption. Vitamin D is also super important, as it helps our bodies absorb calcium from our diets and build those strong bones. It’s hard to get enough Vitamin D through food, so look for supplements or help your body make some by sitting in some good sunlight – just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Committing to regular physical activity is a key component to a healthy lifestyle and the benefits extend to bone health. Weight-bearing activity helps your bones become stronger and can slow down bone loss after menopause. Brisk walks, dancing, tennis, jump roping, even hopscotch! Exercise in all forms is good for your skeleton. Also, as you grow stronger and gain balance through activity, you decrease your risk of falls leading to fractures. So get out there and keep moving!
Lifestyle & Environment
We all know smoking and heavy alcohol use are no good for your overall health, so it is no surprise that both can reduce bone mass. In fact, nicotine actually suppresses bone-forming cells. There may also be other everyday risks right under your nose. Tripping hazards and obstacles can lead to accidental falls, so be sure fix that loose step or tuck that computer cord away, for instance. And adding safety features around the house, like a grip bar in the tub for instance, is never a bad idea.
Consult with your doctor
If you are at risk for bone loss, be sure to consult with your physician. A bone density test may be in order to determine if prescription medicine may be necessary to help protect and build up bone tissue. It’s better to be proactive, than try to make up for severe bone loss down the road.
We hope that with this guidance, you can make your bone health a priority. The specialists at NEOSM are here to answer any questions you have in your journey.
Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons/orthoinfo.org