Ten Tips to Increase Bone Strength

Bones provide attachment to muscles at various points to support movements. They protect vital organs from injuries, store minerals that support biological processes and provide sites for the formation of blood cells necessary for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Because of their important functions, strong bones are essential to live a high quality of life.

Following is 10 tips to increase bone health:

Start Young

Think of your bones as a retirement savings account; you need to bank a lot of funds when you’re young so you have plenty to draw on as you get older. Except with bones, you need to get your stores in sooner. Bones reach peak density when you’re in your 20s.

From then on, your job is to keep those levels up by getting enough calcium and vitamin D, exercising, and taking other steps mentioned here.

Milk It

Calcium and vitamin D are like the Batman and Robin of the bone world — best when working together. Calcium is the foundation of healthy bones, and vitamin D is key to helping the body absorb calcium. And on its own, vitamin D helps build and repair bones and keeps muscle strong, which reduces the risk of falls.

Aim for 1,200mg of calcium a day — the amount in about 4 glasses of nonfat milk or 3 cups of nonfat yogurt — and 1,000 IU of vitamin D. Sadly, most Americans fall far short of these goals. If you don’t do dairy, drink calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice and consider taking supplements.

Know Your Numbers

Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because it doesn’t show obvious outward symptoms until a bone breaks — not the sign you want to wait for.

But a quick and painless test, called a bone mineral density (BMD) test, can tell you how strong your bones are. Your doctor can then combine the results of this test (which is given as a number called a T-score) with other risk factors like your age and gender to determine your actual risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years.

Meat Halfway

The popular saying suggests all things in moderation, and meat is no exception when it comes to healthy bones. Calcium and phosphorous help the body digest animal protein. Eating too much red meat, fish, pork, and poultry can sap these resources from the bone. But protein deficiency hinders calcium absorption in the intestines.

To get it just right, limit your animal protein intake to no more than twice a day, and eat small portions — about 3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards.

Don’t Smoke, Limit Drinking

One more reason to quit: Smoking increases the rate of bone loss. Women who smoke have lower levels of estrogen and tend to hit menopause sooner, both of which accelerate bone loss.

If you drink, keep it to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. Anything more will interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium and will also slow new bone formation.

Ask Mom & Dad

Genes determine a lot of factors that affect your overall bone health — including your bone size and bone mass, when you’ll go through menopause, and how well your body uses calcium and vitamin D. These traits are passed down from father to son and mother to daughter. For instance, a woman whose mother had a hip fracture is at a high risk for the same accident. By knowing your family history, you can take appropriate steps to intervene, including earlier screening and use of medication.

Shake It Off

Too much sodium causes calcium to leach out of your bones and get excreted in your urine. To keep more calcium in your bones (and less in the bowl), follow a low-sodium diet by cutting down on processed foods and keeping the salt shaker off the table.

Pound the Pavement

Weight-bearing exercises — activities that force you to work against gravity — strengthen bone by stimulating bone-building cells called osteoblasts. Your leg, hip, and lower back bones benefit the most, which is important because these bones are very susceptible to debilitating fractures.

High-impact exercises like running, tennis, basketball, and kickboxing strengthen bone the fastest, but even more moderate regimens do the trick. A 2005 study from Japan showed that doing just 10 vertical jumps three times a week significantly increased the bone mineral density in young women. If high-impact moves aren’t safe for you, try brisk walking instead.

Flex It

Every time you flex your muscles, tendons — which attach muscle to bone — tug on your bones stimulating them to grow. Therefore, any exercise that helps build muscle (lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing yoga) will also help build bone. Another plus: Strong muscles improve your balance and coordination so you’re less likely to fall.

You don’t even have to leave your house, just strap on one- or two-pound wrist and ankle weights while doing chores at home. “This allows you to build bone and muscle in the course of your everyday activities,” says Bridget Sinnott, MD, assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Bonus Tip: Protect Against Falls

Even after taking steps to build strong bones, some people will still be at risk for fractures. And in later stages of osteoporosis, simply walking around your home can become an accident waiting to happen. But several simple, DIY fixes can reduce your risk of falling and breaking a bone.

  • Secure rugs and fasten down the corners of rugs that are curling up
  • Remove clutter from walkways
  • Install a nightlight to illuminate the route from your bed to the bathroom
  • Use a no-skid rubber mat in the bathtub
  • Have a handyman install a grab bar in the shower
  • Make sure your slippers have rubber soles

Also, get your eyes checked once a year. Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration impair vision and can make obstacles more difficult to see. A 2005 UK study showed cataract surgery reduces the rate of falls by 34 percent.

Edited from: healthline.com

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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