The skeletal system is literally your support system, and the foundation onto which your muscles are attached. Simply explained, we would not be able to do most of the things and movements that we do without the skeletal system.
Yet, most people barely consider the health of their bones when thinking about their diet. If you want to remain healthy for longer, even in your old ages, you will have to consider the health of your bones. If not, you could end up with a variety of painful conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis or sciatica and many others.
Here are some ways how to keep your bones healthy for longer and how to promote bone health.
Calcium and vitamin D
You probably already know that calcium is essential in the building of bone tissue, and this is the most important nutrient in bone health. We need to keep on taking in calcium because the bone is constantly being destroyed and new ones are being created. This process takes place rapidly from childhood up to early adulthood, around the age of 30 when we reach the peak of our bone mass.
During this time, calcium is required to build the new bone tissue in order to replace the old ones. About 1,000 mg of calcium is recommended daily for anyone below the age of 50, and that level rises to 1,200 mg for those above 50.
This is because starting from the age of 30, on average, bone rebuilding slows down, and we start to lose more bone mass than we generate a new one. By about the age of 50, the process of bone rebuilding is usually slowed down significantly, and this is why calcium intake needs to be higher.
By taking plenty of calcium, especially below the age of 30, you get to build up a higher bone mass that will deplete slower. As we lose more bone mass, we start to develop problems like osteoporosis. The good news is that even for those who already have osteoporosis, high calcium intake can slow down the subsequent bone mass loss and slow the progression of the disease.
Foods high in calcium include eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, seafood like sardines and tuna, leafy vegetables like spinach, etc.
When talking about calcium, it’s easy to forget vitamin D, which is responsible for the actual absorption of calcium into the body. Without it, even the highest calcium diet will do you no good. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, but this may not be enough especially in winter. Foods like sardines, eggs, cereal all have vitamin D and you can also take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin K and potassium
These nutrients also have a positive effect on bone health, even though it may be an indirect one. They both reduce the amount of calcium removed from the body, thereby leaving most of the calcium to rebuild bone and maintain bone mass. Foods that are rich in potassium include bananas, sweet potatoes, yogurt, etc.
Foods that are rich in vitamin K include broccoli, spinach, etc. Try to consume as much as possible the above – mentioned food types which are rich in potassium and vitamin K as well as they promote bone health and will keep your bones healthy and strong.
Exercise is crucial in keeping bones healthy, as can be seen with high bone mass in athletes. Walking, running, skiing, stair climbing or even rope jumping promote bone health. It also improves a person’s balance, thus reducing the risk of falls and subsequent fractures.
You should also quit smoking as it can reduce calcium absorption and reduce bone mass. Avoiding alcohol or a moderate consumption of alcohol is also recommended when looking for the health of the bones. A heavy consumption of alcohol, especially over a long period of time promotes and increases bone loss, while moderate alcohol consumption is considered as safe.
Know your family history
Osteoporosis runs in the family, and you should know whether you’re at risk so that you can start taking measures early. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis or osteoporosis after menopause, especially after the age of 65 years old. Men are more likely to develop osteoporosis or osteoarthritis after the age of 70 years old.