Bones are vital because they provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles, and store calcium. While it's critical to develop strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, it’s also crucial to protect your bone health as an adult.
Low bone mass puts you at risk of developing weak bones (osteopenia and osteoporosis), but there are things you can do to keep your bones strong as you get older. Internal medicine and endocrinology specialist Sam Morayati, MD, provides comprehensive care to adults in the Burlington, North Carolina, community. As you get older, you must take special care to keep your body and mind strong and healthy, and this includes taking care of your bones.
Roughly 43% of adults (around 43 million people) over 50 have low bone mass. It’s never too late or too early to take steps to protect your bone health. Here’s how.
Importance of bone health
Your bones are living tissue, continuously forming new bone and breaking down old bone. Your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone when you're young, so your bone mass increases and bones remain strong.
You reach peak bone mass by about the age of 30. Bone remodeling continues after that, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain.
Your risk of weak bones when you get older is influenced by how much bone mass you have by the age of 30 and how fast you lose it after that.
What factors influence bone health?
Bone health is influenced by a variety of factors, including:
The calcium content of your diet – A low-calcium diet leads to decreased bone density, early bone loss, and a higher risk of fractures.
Physical exercise – Physically inactive people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than their more active counterparts.
Tobacco and alcohol consumption – Tobacco use has been linked to weak bones in studies. In the same way, having more than one alcoholic drink per day for women or two alcoholic drinks per day for men may raise the risk of osteoporosis.
Sex – Because women have less bone than men, they are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Age – As you get older, your bones become thinner and weaker.
Additionally, having an immediate family member with osteoporosis puts you at higher risk, especially if you have a family history of fractures.
What’s more, because estrogen levels drop during menopause, bone loss in women increases dramatically.
Keeping your bones strong
You can prevent or slow bone loss by following a few simple steps. Here are some tips:
Calcium is vital for keeping bones strong. Adults aged 19-50 and men aged 51-70 should aim for 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, while women over 51 and men over 71 should aim for 1,200 mg daily.
Dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines, and soy products like tofu are all good sources of calcium. Calcium supplements are helpful when you have trouble getting enough from diet alone.
Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) per day for adults aged 19-70. For adults aged 71 and up, the daily dose is increased to 800 IUs.
Oily fish, such as salmon and tuna, are excellent vitamin D sources. Mushrooms, eggs, and fortified foods like milk and cereal are also excellent sources of vitamin D. Sunlight also aids in the production of vitamin D in the body.
Make physical activity a priority. Walking, jogging, and stair climbing are weight-bearing exercises that can go a long way in helping to keep your bones strong. Avoid smoking and if you drink, do so in moderation. If you're a woman, limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per day. If you're a man, limit yourself to two alcoholic drinks per day.
Rely on a health expert to help you keep your bones strong at any age. Dr. Morayati can check your bone density, discuss your lifestyle habits and any potential risk factors, and provide expert guidance on keeping your bones strong and healthy. Reach out to our clinic to schedule a visit with Dr. Morayati or book your appointment online today.