Women have very busy lives. We work, take care of our families, volunteer and a myriad other things. And while we are always concerned about the health of our families, we oftentimes put our own health care on the back burner. Regardless of how busy our lives are women need to take a more proactive approach to their health care, including maintaining healthy bones.
Osteoporosis is a serious health problem that can be prevented or even reversed. A natural approach combined with good nutrition and lifestyle changes can actually strengthen bone.
Bone plays a major role in our body’s health for all ages, not just those with osteoporosis.
Bone is the repository for nutrients and minerals needed for the blood. If blood calcium levels drop to a critically low level, calcium is then drawn from bone. It’s necessary for women to have healthy bones so their blood can maintain a healthy balance.
Bones are continually changing. Old bones break down while new bone is being generated. Young people make new bones faster than they break down old bone so their bone mass increases. This growth rate normally peaks around age 30. As we grow older, the body starts to lose more mass than it builds.
Factors that affect bone health:
- The amount of calcium included in your diet. Low calcium levels can weaken bone density and lead to fractures among other things.
- Physical activity helps maintain strong bones. Less physically active people have an increased risk for osteoporosis.
- Gender, age and body size play a role in bone health. Women have less bone tissue than our male counterparts. Bodies that are older, extremely thin or small framed have a higher risk of poor bone health.
- Your race or family history plays a role. White and Asian descent are at greater risk. Those with a parent or sibling with osteoporosis also have an increased risk for osteoporosis.
- Too much thyroid hormone causes bone loss. Bone loss increases during menopause as estrogen levels drop.
- Eating disorders, tobacco and alcohol use are also affect bones and can increase risks of bone disease.
So how do we combat bone loss?
There are a few things we can do to prevent or at least slow bone loss.
- Consume plenty of calcium. That means getting the recommended dietary allowance – 1,000 milligrams daily. After the age of 50, for women, the recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day.
- Good sources of calcium are dairy products, almonds, canned salmon, broccoli, sardines and tofu. You can also take calcium supplements if you don’t get enough in your diet.
- Get plenty of vitamin D. It’s necessary to absorb calcium. The RDA for adults is 600 international units a day.
- Vitamin D can be found in tuna or sardines, egg yolks and vitamin fortified milk. Sunlight is the most natural source of contributing to our body’s production of vitamin D. Take supplements if you don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet.
- Don’t smoke and limit alcohol consumption to no more than one to two drinks per day.
- Get active. Do some sort of physical activity every day. Walking, jogging, climbing stairs and tennis are good choices for building strong bones.
- Eat a well-balanced diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein making sure you include good fats.
A natural approach to bone health depends, in part, on factors already in our body’s makeup. Even if these factors seem stacked against us, we shouldn’t let them get us down. By changing our lifestyle through healthy diet, exercise, and supplements we can increase our ability to prevent or reverse bone loss.