Did you know your body continuously makes new bone and breaks down old bone? When you’re young, your body creates more bone than it loses, increasing your bone mass. But once you reach age 30 – the average time of peak bone mass – you start to lose slightly more bone than you gain. As bone mass decreases, bones weaken and your risk of fracture increases.
If bone density decreases too much, it can result in a condition called osteoporosis. Up to 50% of women and 25% of men fracture a bone after age 50 due to osteoporosis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Fractures resulting from osteoporosis are a leading cause of disability in older adults.
Keeping your bones healthy should start at a very young age, since what you do when you’re young affects how dense your bones are by the time you reach peak bone mass. However, there’s plenty you can do to keep your bones healthier, no matter what your age.
Here are some tips for improving or maintaining bone health:
One of the biggest contributors to bone health is found right on your plate. In addition to calcium, which helps build bone tissue, your body needs other important nutrients to keep bones healthy, such as vitamins C, D and K. Dairy products are a well-known source of calcium, but you can also get calcium from foods such as salmon, tuna and tofu, as well as from vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli.
Your body also needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium. A few minutes a day of sunlight can provide you with enough of this essential vitamin or you can get it from cold water fish, eggs or fortified dairy products. The best way to get all the bone-boosting nutrients you need is to choose whole foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
In addition to eating healthy, you need to move to keep your bones strong and healthy. Physical activity, specifically weight-bearing activity, is a key contributor to healthy bones. As you engage in weight-bearing exercise, the stress put on your bones causes them to produce more cells and this makes them stronger. The best activity to keep bones strong includes weight-lifting and strengthening exercises.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Being overweight is a contributor to many health problems, including bone health. But when it comes to your bones, being too thin can also have a negative impact on your bones. If you have a small body frame or a body mass index (BMI) under 19, you may have less bone mass and this can result in a higher likelihood that you’ll experience osteoporosis or bone fractures.
Research shows smoking can diminish your bone health so if you need another reason to quit, consider your bones. Your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures increases with the amount of time you have been smoking and the number of cigarettes you smoke, according to the National Institutes of Health.