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The Importance of Bone Health: 7 Tips for Stronger Bones

Nov 30, 2023
The Importance of Bone Health: 7 Tips for Stronger Bones

Maintaining strong and healthy bones is essential for overall well-being and quality of life. Our bones provide structural support for our bodies, protect vital organs such as our heart and lungs, and allow us to move freely. However, many people overlook the importance of bone health until they face issues like osteoporosis or fractures.

Understanding Bone Health

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration, making bones fragile and prone to fractures. Osteoporosis increases with age and with decreased estrogen. However, it is underrecognized in men and younger adults.

Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease globally, affecting one out of every three women and one out of every five men. The incidence of osteoporosis rises with age. Osteoporosis affects approximately 200 million women worldwide, with 1 in 10 in their 60s, 1 in 5 in their 70s, 2 in 5 in their 80s, and 2 in 3 in their 90s affected. In men, bone density gradually decreases. Women experience a rapid decline in bone density after menopause.

Bone is a reservoir for calcium, a mineral that is essential for proper heart function. Your body keeps calcium levels under tight control. Too high or too low a calcium level affects how well your heart contracts. If your blood calcium levels decrease, specialized bone cells called osteoclasts will break bone down and release calcium into your bloodstream. These cells will continue to do this as long as necessary, even at the expense of your bone density.

Unfortunately, osteoporosis rarely causes symptoms. Most people don’t know they have it until they sustain a bone fracture.

Definition of osteoporosis: a disease of bone health

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

One of the biggest risk factors for osteoporosis is increasing age. Of course, you can’t do anything about the aging process, at least not yet, but you can reduce your risk of osteoporosis by modifying lifestyle factors that may increase your risk.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Being Caucasian or Asian
  • Having a family history of fractures
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Having poor muscle strength
  • Weight loss after age 50
  • Having medical conditions such as blood disorders, diabetes, thyroid disease, increased parathyroid hormone, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Taking medications such as aluminum-based antacids, glucocorticoids, chemotherapeutic drugs, proton-pump inhibitors, and selective serotonin inhibitors

Lifestyle factors that could increase your risk of osteoporosis include:1-5

  • Excessive alcohol, caffeine, or vitamin A intake
  • High BMI in men
  • High oxalate or salt intake
  • Immobilization
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Low body mass index
  • Insufficient calcium or vitamin D intake
  • Poor muscle strength
  • Smoking

It is essential to be aware of these risk factors and take proactive steps to mitigate any risk factors you can change. It’s never too early to start making changes in your lifestyle that support your bone health.

#1 Eat Healthy for Strong Bones

A balanced diet plays a vital role in maintaining bone health. Consuming foods rich in calcium and vitamin D is particularly important. Calcium is essential for bone strength, while vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. Magnesium, vitamin K, and phosphorus are also important for bone health.

While the recommended daily calcium intake for adults is 1,000–1,200 mg, it may vary based on age and gender. Some excellent sources of calcium include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, and fortified foods. Other potential sources of calcium include nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and tofu and tempeh. When possible, choose food sources of calcium instead of supplements.

Vitamin D plays a vital role in calcium absorption and bone health. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight, and it is also found in certain foods or supplements.

Vitamin D can be obtained from fatty fish, mushrooms, and fortified foods such as cereals, orange juice, and plant-based milk alternatives. It is important to ensure proper nutrition from childhood to adulthood to support optimal bone development and prevent bone loss.

#2 Do Strength-Building Exercise Regularly

Bone is a living tissue that is constantly being remodeled. It responds to the stress you put on it. For example, if you do biceps curls over time, the bone will thicken where the biceps muscle inserts. Bone thickens in response to the increased stress on it from your biceps curls.

Experts recommend that you do muscle-strengthening exercises for each major muscle group a minimum of twice a week. This helps you strengthen your muscles, manage your weight, and thicken your bones.

Engaging in regular exercise is crucial for building and maintaining strong bones. Weight-bearing exercises, such as brisk walking, jogging, tennis, and dancing, stimulate bone formation and enhance bone mineral density.

Resistance training exercises, such as weightlifting or using resistance bands, strengthen muscles and put stress on bones, strengthening them.

Balance training exercises, like tai chi and walking on unstable surfaces, improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and fractures. Check your house for fall risks.

#3 Consume Enough Protein

Protein is a key nutrient for bone health, accounting for approximately 50% of bone volume. Adequate protein intake is necessary for calcium absorption and bone formation. Concerns have been raised about high-protein diets and their impact on bone health due to the acidity of proteins.

Studies suggest that consuming up to 100 grams of protein daily, along with a balanced diet, does not negatively affect bone health. If you have adequate protein intake, there is little evidence that consuming more will improve your bone density, but it will not hurt it either.6

A close-up of thinning bone

#4 Supply Your Bones with Enough Calories to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Consuming adequate calories is important for overall health, including bone health. Extremely low-calorie diets can lead to decreased bone density, muscle loss, and increased bone fragility. Consuming a full-calorie diet, along with exercise, benefits your bones. Research suggests that a low-calorie diet, especially when combined with exercise, can reduce your bone density.7

The number of calories you should consume each day depends on your age, weight, height, exercise intensity, daily physical activity, and overall health. Depending on these factors, your daily calorie requirement may vary from 1,600 to 3,000 calories per day. A well-rounded diet with sufficient calories, including protein, vitamins, and minerals, is essential for preserving bone density and strength.

#5 Collagen and Bone Health

Collagen, the main protein in bones, provides structural support and plays a role in bone formation. While research on collagen supplements and bone health is limited, early evidence suggests potential benefits. In one study and a follow-up several years later, postmenopausal women who consumed collagen peptides had an increase in bone density.8,9

Collagen hydrolysate, derived from animal bones, contains amino acids that contribute to bone, muscle, and tissue formation. Incorporating collagen-rich foods, such as bone broth, into your diet or taking a supplement may support bone health. However, further studies are needed to establish the full extent of collagen’s impact on bone health.9

#6 Lifestyle Factors and Bone Health

Besides nutrition and exercise, certain lifestyle factors can affect bone health. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption is crucial, as both have been linked to decreased bone density and an increased risk of fractures. Limit your caffeine intake, especially if your calcium levels are low.

If you smoke and are ready to quit, try a smoking cessation program.

#7 See Your Doctor

Get regular health checkups. Ask whether you are at risk for osteoporosis. If you are at increased risk, see if it is appropriate for you to have bone density testing (DEXA scan) to assess your bone strength. If your bone density is low, follow your doctor’s advice regarding medications that may preserve your bone density and reduce your risk of fractures.

Bone Health Throughout Life Stages

Bone health is a lifelong concern that requires attention at every stage of life. Building strong bones in childhood and adolescence is crucial for peak bone mass and long-term bone health. Implementing healthy eating habits, engaging in regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are essential during these formative years.

As adults, it is important to continue prioritizing bone health through proper nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

During older adulthood, preventing bone loss becomes a primary focus, with a particular emphasis on maintaining muscle strength and balance to reduce the risk of falls and fractures.

Human growth hormone also decreases with age. Sermorelin boosts naturally produced human growth hormone, enhancing muscle mass, reducing body fat, increasing bone density, and promoting better sleep.

Get started today with a monthly subscription of Sermorelin.

Disclaimer
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

The Importance of Bone Health: 7 Tips for Stronger Bones

Leann Poston, M.D.

Dr. Leann Poston is a licensed physician in the state of Ohio who holds an M.B.A. and an M. Ed. She is a full-time medical communications writer and educator who writes and researches for Invigor Medical. Dr. Poston lives in the Midwest with her family. She enjoys traveling and hiking. She is an avid technology aficionado and loves trying new things.

References

  • Yoon, V., Maalouf, N. M., & Sakhaee, K. (2012). The effects of smoking on bone metabolism. Osteoporosis International: A Journal Established as Result of Cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 23(8), 2081–2092. DOI: 10.1007/s00198-012-1940-y
  • Maurel, D. B., Boisseau, N., Benhamou, C. L., & Jaffre, C. (2012). Alcohol and bone: review of dose effects and mechanisms. Osteoporosis International: A Journal Established as Result of Cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 23(1), 1–16. DOI: 10.1007/s00198-011-1787-7
  • Rapuri, P. B., Gallagher, J. C., Kinyamu, H. K., & Ryschon, K. L. (2001). Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 74(5), 694–700. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/74.5.694
  • Nielson, C. M., Marshall, L. M., Adams, A. L., LeBlanc, E. S., Cawthon, P. M., Ensrud, K., Stefanick, M. L., Barrett-Connor, E., Orwoll, E. S., & Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study Research Group. (2011). BMI and fracture risk in older men: the osteoporotic fractures in men study (MrOS). Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: The Official Journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 26(3), 496–502. DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.235
  • Lim, L. S., Harnack, L. J., Lazovich, D., & Folsom, A. R. (2004). Vitamin A intake and the risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Osteoporosis International: A Journal Established as Result of Cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 15(7), 552–559. DOI: 10.1007/s00198-003-1577-y
  • Tsagari A. Dietary protein intake and bone health. J Frailty Sarcopenia Falls. 2020 Mar 1;5(1):1-5. doi: 10.22540/JFSF-05-001. PMID: 32300728; PMCID: PMC7155358.
  • McGrath, C., Sankaran, J.S., Misaghian-Xanthos, N., Sen, B., Xie, Z., Styner, M.A., Zong, X., Rubin, J. and Styner, M. (2020), Exercise Degrades Bone in Caloric Restriction, Despite Suppression of Marrow Adipose Tissue (MAT). J Bone Miner Res, 35: 106-115. https://doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.3872
  • König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097. PMID: 29337906; PMCID: PMC5793325.
  • Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, König D. Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides in Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: Long-Term Observation in Postmenopausal Women. J Bone Metab. 2021 Aug;28(3):207-213. doi: 10.11005/jbm.2021.28.3.207. Epub 2021 Aug 31. PMID: 34520654; PMCID: PMC8441532.

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