It almost goes without saying, but maintaining good bone strength is important in helping us stand tall, avoid debilitating illnesses and carry us right through to old age.
There are many things you can do to increase your bone strength and ensure you have a body that will keep you riding high for years to come.
Throughout childhood, we need to make sure we get adequate calcium and vitamin D for our growing bones. As adults, it’s just as important that we maintain a good diet and lifestyle, as our aging body loses its ability to easily regenerate bones. Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or going through menopause have an even greater need to support the changes occurring in their bodies through good bone health.
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The most obvious step to take to improve your bone health is to make sure you absorb enough calcium through a balanced diet. Easy and natural ways to get calcium include consuming the following:
- Milk and milk products, like yogourt and cheese
- Dark green vegetables, such as spinach, kale and broccoli
- Fish with soft bones, like canned salmon
A diet filled with fruits and vegetables will also help your body absorb calcium and strengthen your frame.
Some people might find it hard to include calcium-rich foods in their diet every day. If that’s you, then consider taking supplements that are readily available over the counter. Based on research from the Institute of Medicine, Caltrate, makers of calcium and vitamin D supplements, recommend the following calcium doses:
- 1–3 years of age: 700 milligrams daily
- 4–8 years of age: 1,000 milligrams daily
- 9–18 years of age: 1,300 milligrams daily
- 19–50 years of age: 1,000 milligrams daily
- Men over 50: 1,000 milligrams daily
- Women over 51: 1,200 milligrams daily
The above amounts can be consumed through supplements of different strengths, dependent on how much you specifically need.
Another well-known way to enhance your bone strength is to ensure you get a daily dose of vitamin D. Health Canada says, “Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps the body use calcium and phosphorous to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.”
Though vitamin D can be obtained through sun exposure, most people prefer to take a supplement or to consume foods that have been fortified with it, such as cow’s milk, margarine and some orange juices. Fatty fish and egg yolks also contain vitamin D.
Just like your muscles, your bones also benefit from regular exercise. The more you work them, the stronger they remain. However, only specific kinds of activities are good for bone strength, and they are known as weight-bearing exercises.
Essentially you should try to do exercises that keep your body’s weight on your frame and that work against gravity, such as walking, jogging, tennis, climbing stairs and dancing. Exercises such as swimming and cycling remove your body’s weight from your frame and therefore don’t strengthen your bones.
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As we age or change shape, we can sometimes lose our ability to have good balance — and we all know that a fall can lead to broken bones or fractures. So while balance exercises such as yoga, tai chi and standing activities won’t build bone strength, they will help with the ability to stay on two feet and avoid any unfortunate accidents. Another tip is to do exercises that build core strength, as this will give you good posture and help keep you upright.