As we age, the health and density of our bones becomes more important. Here at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute, we believe in fostering a bone-healthy lifestyle that can help you avoid fractures in your spine, hips, or wrists. In this blog post, we dive into the best vitamins and minerals for bone health: so you can stay strong and maintain healthy bones regardless of your age.
When it comes to health and wellness, the skeletal system is truly an unsung hero. All too often, bone health doesn’t receive the attention it deserves until later in people’s lives — often after the opportunity tosupport long-term bone health has passed.
Your bones give your body shape, produce red blood cells, store crucial minerals, protect vital organs, and enable the movement of work and play. Over the course of your life, your body will constantly break down and regenerate your bone tissue. Understanding and supporting this process is important for maintaining a high quality of life as you age.
Dietary calcium: the foundation for lifelong wellness
As you probably know, calcium makes up a significant portion of your bones and teeth. Calcium is actually the most abundant mineral in the body, and well-known for its importance to bone health. Adequate calcium intake is the most important factor in building a strong skeletal system. Among its bone-supporting function, calcium also aids in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and signaling between cells.
A tall, calcium-packed glass of milk is iconic for its bone benefits. In addition to dairy, leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are other reliable sources of calcium. Soy beans and broccoli also contain significant amounts.
Not eating these foods too often? Fortunately, many cereals, breads and juices are fortified with calcium. Additionally, calcium supplements can also increase your intake and help avoid a potential deficiency.
By paying attention to calcium intake in your 20s, you can get a head start building up calcium reserves that your body will utilize well into the future.
Osteoporosis: start early to avoid this serious condition
Before reaching peak bone mass around age 30, most healthy people build more bone tissue than they break down. Osteoblasts and osteocytes are the cell types that synthesize bone, while osteoclasts break down bone. Bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down bone tissue to release the mineral contents into the bloodstream.
Your bone production naturally begins to slow down around age 30, which can cause an overall loss of bone mass for some people.
Building the foundation for bone health early in life — while you can still build its strength — is an investment in your longevity and quality of life. Regular exercise is another positive step towards improving your bone density and reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
Factors that influence calcium intake and bone density
For most people, calcium intake will be the most important factor in managing bone health. However, other factors should be taken into consideration: gender, age, ethnicity, and family history all influence your unique needs.
Certain medical conditions and medications will influence your body’s ability to utilize calcium properly. Eating disorders and digestive conditions also decrease the body’s ability absorb calcium. The prolonged use of corticosteroids, acid suppressors, and several anti-seizure medications are also thought to affect bone density negatively.
Sudden changes or imbalances in hormone production can increase the risk of osteoporosis. It is widely known that menopause decreases bone density, as the body’s production of estrogen diminishes. Similarly, men with low testosterone levels may experience a decrease in bone density. Similarly, an imbalance of thyroid hormones can also lead to bone loss.
Of course, there are the usual culprits as well: heavy alcohol use, smoking, and excessive caffeine consumption all interfere with calcium intake, and thus, bone health.