Friday, June 24, 2022

7 Ways to Maintain Bone Health

 7 ways to maintain bone health

Osteoporosis, which means porous bone, is a chronic disease characterized by the weakening of bones and significant reductions in bone density, which is the amount of bone minerals in the bone tissue itself. This can result in an increased risk of fractures and other fall-related injuries. Even mild stress can fracture an osteoporotic bone that has become very brittle.  Women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis once they reach menopause due to hormonal changes.

What you can do for healthy bones

While there are many risk factors, there are some methods you can use to strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Read on to learn more about the top 7 ways you can maintain your bone health.

1.      Watch what you eat

Making sure you get a variety of nutrients from your food not only helps your overall health, but it can contribute toward building stronger bones and maintaining normal bone density. The two most critical nutrients for bone health are calcium and vitamin D. Other important vitamins for bone health include vitamin C and vitamin K.

Foods that are rich in calcium such as dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt) and plant-based sources (like almonds, beans, tofu or kale) are the best sources. Sources of vitamin D include exposure to sunlight and consumption of certain foods and supplements. Since there are very few foods that contain vitamin D, your best sources include fatty fish like wild-caught mackerel, salmon and tuna or foods where vitamin D has been added, such as dairy products, orange juice and fortified cereals. Many of these nutrients can be found in a diet made up of dark leafy green vegetables and a variety of colorful fruits.

Some research has correlated a higher intake of fruits and vegetables with higher bone mineral density. Getting your vitamins and minerals from quality food sources is more beneficial than supplements, but your healthcare professional may recommend supplements if it is difficult for you to meet daily recommended levels from food alone.

2.      Maintain a regular exercise routine and a healthy body weight

Building a regular exercise routine that works for your body will help your bones in many ways. In the most direct way, weight-bearing exercises and high-impact activities can help build strong bones and slow bone loss. Exercising regularly will also help build your muscles, which can contribute to stabilizing joints and reducing bone fractures. In contrast, a reduction in exercise can lead to increased risks of bone loss, bone fractures or even a loss of independence.

Also, it is important to know that people who are obese or underweight may be predisposed to bone loss. Some studies have shown individuals who are underweight (BMI range of less than 18.5) are more likely to have lower bone density than individuals who have a normal weight (BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9) and even those who were overweight (BMI range of 25 to 29.9). While some researchers disagree, more recent studies have shown that obesity (BMI range of 30 or greater) negatively affects bone density, and that fat accumulation within the body decreases the overall bone mass in your body.

Overall, building and maintaining a regular exercise routine is vital to protect and strengthen your bones. Staying active is very important for maintaining and improving your bones and the rest of your health. If you have other health concerns which limit your ability to perform weight-bearing or high-impact exercises, talk with your healthcare professional about which exercises will best help you protect your bones and what exercise can be safely incorporated into your lifestyle.

To learn more about how Sun Health Wellness has helped others lose weight, be sure to check out the weight loss journeys of Sun Health residents, Susan Hershberger and Bonnie White.

3.      Quit smoking

It may come as a surprise that smoking can have detrimental effects on your bones, since most public health awareness campaigns on tobacco have historically focused on the risks of cancer, heart disease and early death. However, smoking is absolutely harmful to your bone health – some researchers claim that smoking is a key lifestyle risk factor for bone loss and fractures more so than other risks associated with age and gender. Furthermore, smoking can even reduce your intestine’s ability to absorb calcium – meaning it will be harder for your body to extract calcium from any food or supplements you consume.

4.      Reduce your alcohol and soda intake

To optimize your bone health, women are recommended to limit their alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day, and men to limit their alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day. Soda consumption has also been linked to bone density issues. In one study, researchers found that older adults were more likely to fracture a hip when consuming soda, regardless of whether it was diet or regular soda. However, while researchers have yet to uncover why this connection exists, it’s probably safe to limit your intake of soda.

5.      Talk to your healthcare professional

If you are concerned about your bone health, talk to your healthcare professional. He or she can review your medications and order tests to determine your risk of bone loss or fracture and uncover any nutrient deficiencies. Certain medications can negatively affect bone density, such as corticosteroids like prednisone, which are often prescribed for arthritis or certain autoimmune diseases. Similar to tobacco consumption, corticosteroids limit the intestine’s ability to absorb calcium and other key nutrients, weakening your bones as a result. If you need to take these medications for a long period of time or at high doses, your healthcare professional may recommend certain medications to protect your bones. Make sure to report any recent falls to your provider as well. A history of falls, combined with osteoporosis, can put you at increased risk for fractures.

6.      Get screened

Since osteoporosis has no obvious symptoms other than a fracture when the bone is already weakened, it is important to talk to your healthcare professional if you have any of the risk factors for osteoporosis. He or she may order a bone mineral density (BMD) test for you, a painless and quick exam that can tell you a lot about your bone health.

Medicare and most insurance providers will cover BMD testing every 24 months for beneficiaries with risk factors for osteoporosis. Some people with diagnosed osteoporosis or other conditions will qualify for an annual exam. A physician order is required for this test.

7.     Add supplements

Your healthcare professional may treat deficiencies found by suggesting supplements. While a balanced diet is key, you may also find yourself needing to boost your intake of certain vitamins and minerals – like calcium and vitamin D for example. Calcium is best absorbed when taken in amounts of 500 – 600 mg or less. Additionally, your body needs adequate levels of vitamin D in order to properly absorb calcium. If you are taking a vitamin D supplement, it does not need to be taken at the same time as your calcium supplement. When shopping for supplements, look for words on the label that state “purified” or have the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol. Supplements with the “USP Verified Mark” on their label have been tested to meet standards for purity and quality. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

You can also boost your vitamin D production naturally by going out into the sun for a few minutes a day – but be sure to check with your dermatologist first to determine whether the benefits of sun exposure outweigh the risks of skin cancer. Other supplements that may be beneficial include magnesium, B vitamins, potassium and folate. Be sure to discuss any supplements with your healthcare professional before adding them to your regimen to assure they are safe and effective, given your existing medications and health conditions.

Consult the experts at Sun Health Wellness

Navigating a tricky disease like osteoporosis and bone health can be difficult by yourself. Consider consulting the health and wellness experts at Sun Health Wellness to learn more about how to optimize your health. Whether it’s taking a Healthy Living Class on bone and joint health, or consulting with a Wellness Advocate who can help you navigate your health condition, there’s an option for everyone.


The information in this blog is not medical information, and any concern about your health, diet or exercise regimen should be deferred to your doctor for their professional expertise.


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