Do you have healthy bones? Why are healthy bones important, and what steps can you take to maintain or even improve your bone health? AgeWellMD focuses on functional medicine, which views your body as a whole, and therefore, we see healthy bones as vital to your overall wellness.
Healthy bones are predominantly made of collagen and calcium phosphate and are living tissue that is constantly regenerating. Your entire skeleton is replaced by new bone approximately every ten years. Peak bone mass occurs around 30 years of age, and loss of bone mass happens when the reabsorption of bone occurs faster than the growth of new bone. The bone mass decline is associated with osteoporosis, which is a condition characterized by fragile and brittle bones and low bone mineral density. This condition creates an increased risk of bone fractures. As we age, the risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures increases significantly.
Who is at risk for osteoporosis and decreased bone density?
As we age, our ability to have healthy bones naturally decreases. For women, individuals over 50 who are perimenopausal and menopausal are at the highest risk. Specifically, as menopause occurs, there is a significant drop in the estrogen hormone associated with bone loss. Similarly, men are at the highest risk of decreased bone density around 70 years of age when their testosterone levels decrease during andropause. Certain other medical conditions can also increase the risk of bone loss. For example, an overactive thyroid, chronic kidney disease, arthritis, and type 1 diabetes are all shown to have a higher risk for osteoporosis.
How does your lifestyle play a role in healthy bones?
Outside of aging, there are several lifestyle factors and habits that can decrease your bone density. One aspect is maintaining a healthy diet. For example, a deficiency in calcium and vitamin D can contribute to an increase in bone loss. Since calcium acts as the key structural component of bones, and calcium is not synthesized naturally in the body, including calcium in your daily diet is essential to maintain healthy bones. Furthermore, vitamin D supports new bone growth and aids with the reabsorption of calcium in your system. Without an adequate source of vitamin D and calcium, you cannot build bone tissue at an optimum level.
Exercise also plays a significant role in maintaining strong and healthy bones. Weight-bearing activities like walking, running, climbing stairs, and resistance exercises like lifting weights can all help strengthen your bones. Although high-intensity exercise like biking or swimming has excellent cardiovascular benefits, only those exercises with weight-bearing attributes help maintain healthy bones.
Equally important would be limiting the intake of alcohol and tobacco. Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol as well as smoking, are both thought to increase bone loss. Some prescription drugs are harmful to bone health. While you may not be able to stop taking those prescriptions, understanding these medications can cause issues that give you the ability to take steps to prevent it.
What can you do to keep your bones healthy?
AgeWellMD has provided some simple steps you can take to ensure healthy bones and prevent bone loss:
- Include Calcium and Vitamin D in your diet. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) calls for 1,000 – 1,200 mg of calcium per day, and 600 International Units (IU’s) of vitamin D. Sources of calcium include leafy greens, dairy, almonds, soy products, and salmon. Sources of vitamin D include sunlight, oily fish (salmon, tuna, whitefish), mushrooms, and eggs. At AgeWellMD, we believe that supplements are also a great way to support your daily diet.
- Exercise regularly. Including physical activity like walking, jogging, or lifting weights in your daily routine helps build and maintain healthy bones.
- Maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight means being neither overweight nor underweight. Notably, low body weight is a primary contributing factor in bone loss in postmenopausal women. On the other hand, being overweight can cause issues due to the increased stress on your bones from the extra weight.
- Balance your Hormones. Osteoporosis is a common concern among aging men and women. Again hormone production declines during menopause and andropause, which may cause bones to be brittle and less dense. As a result, there is an increased risk of bone fractures during and after menopause and andropause. For this reason, hormone replacement therapy from AgeWellMD is a fantastic way to maintain healthy levels of progesterone and estrogen, which bolsters healthy bone growth and repair.
The bottom line
At AgeWellMD, we understand maintaining healthy bones is essential for your daily life. If you’re concerned with your bone health, consult your doctor about your risk for osteoporosis, and importantly, contact us today for your complimentary consultation to create a personalized care plan based upon your unique needs.