As a child, did your parents tell you to eat veggies and drink your milk to build your bones?
Just like most kids, you probably rolled your eyes and didn’t think about your bones unless you broke one. Bones grow dense until you’re in your 30s. After that, it becomes important to keep them strong.
Why is bone strength important?
You may have heard about osteoporosis, which is the thinning of bones as they age. It affects both men and women.
As you age, your provider may order a bone density test to measure your bone health and your bone mass. The results will show if you have low bone density, or mass, which may lead to osteoporosis.
If you have osteoporosis, you may easily break bones as they become brittle. If you’re a woman who has reached menopause, you may risk losing up to 20% of bone density within a decade. That’s why it’s so important to keep bones healthy and strong throughout your life.
Ways to strengthen bones
You can start taking care of your bones at any age. If you’re over 40 years old, you can also do many things to slow down naturally occurring bone loss.
Follow these seven simple ways to keep your bones happy.
Eat foods high in calcium
Calcium is one of the most important elements of bone health because it builds and maintains mass. The best thing you can do is to eat high-calcium foods.
These foods include the following:
- Cheddar or mozzarella cheese
- Collard greens
- Cottage cheese
- Leafy greens and green vegetables
- Orange juice (fortified)
- Tofu with added calcium
Eat foods with the right minerals
In addition to calcium, there are other minerals that are vital to bone health. Consider eating foods rich with magnesium and zinc. Magnesium, which appears in foods including dark chocolate, nuts and avocados, converts vitamin D into a form that helps your body absorb calcium.
Zinc, which you can find in foods such as beef, shrimp and spinach, maintains bone density as you age.
Eat foods high in omega-3 fats
Omega-3 fats are important for your overall diet, including boosting your bone health. Omega-3 foods are good for remaining inflammatory-free, which protects against bone loss.
Eat fatty fishes and plant sources of the fat, including these foods:
- Canned light tuna
Get the right type of exercise
Two specific types of exercise help bone health. Weight-bearing and strength-training exercises are the best for promoting bone formation and keeping bones strong. That’s because bones grow stronger when put through stress-related exercise.
Here are five exercises that can promote bone growth:
- Jumping jacks
- Step aerobics
- Weight training
Take the right vitamins
Sometimes it’s confusing to tell which vitamins are good for the different parts of your body. Here’s a short list of what your bones need:
- Vitamin C, that’s found in fruits and vegetables protects bone cells from damage while stimulating the production of bone cells.
- Vitamin D, mostly gained through sunlight exposure, fatty fishes, some dairy products and supplements, helps you absorb calcium needed for bone protection.
- Vitamin K2, found in fermented foods, liver, eggs and meat, supports a specific protein that forms bone. It also helps prevent bones from calcium loss.
Eat less bread
An important connection between the wheat in bread and bone loss may exist. Research indicates that the sulfur compounds in grains may increase your body’s acids, which can cause bone loss.
Keep an eye on the amount of breakfast cereals, bread, rolls, crackers and cookies you eat every day.
Get more sleep
Studies have shown that sleeping less than six hours a night can put you at a greater risk for developing osteoporosis. This is because the bones can’t repair themselves without quality or sufficient sleep. Make good sleep a priority each night.