Looking after your bones is important because they play several roles in the body. As well as providing structure, they also protect organs, anchor muscles and store calcium. Though we hear a lot about the importance of building strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, bone health can be protected throughout adulthood.
Why is it important to look after your bone health during adulthood?
Our bodies continuously make new bone and break down old bone. When we’re young, the body makes new bone faster than it breaks down the old bone leading to increased bone mass. With age, we begin to lose more bone mass than we gain.
There are several condition and diseases that can affect our bones, including osteoporosis. This is a common condition where bones become weak and brittle, which affects over 3 million people in the UK. Looking after our bones can be an important part of preventing such conditions.
What can affect bone health?
There are several factors that can affect bone health, some of which are related to lifestyle.
An example of this is physical activity. Exercise is important for maintaining bone strength and being less physically active can place you at a higher risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis.
Another example is diet. Calcium is important for maintaining bone health and not getting enough calcium can contribute towards diminishing bone density.
It has also been suggested that smoking and tobacco are associated with an increased risk of weak bones.
However, some factors that affect bone health are not related to lifestyle.
For example, women can face dramatic bone loss during menopause due to oestrogen levels dropping.
Keeping your bones healthy
There are some simple steps that can be taken to prevent or slow bone loss.
- Incorporate calcium into your diet
There are plenty of ways to ensure you are getting enough calcium. Many foods are rich in calcium, including dairy products, almonds, edamame, and leafy greens. However, if it is hard to incorporate calcium through your diet, there are supplements that could help.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for health bones because it helps the body absorb calcium. It can sometimes be difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet, even though there is vitamin D in oily fish, egg yolks, and red meat. Like calcium, it is possible to take supplements to ensure you are getting enough. Sunlight can also trigger the production of vitamin D.
- Physical activity
Staying active is important for looking after your bones, but weight-bearing exercises are particularly good. This can include walking and jogging, but also resistance can boost bone strength.
- Avoid substance abuse
Because lifestyle is an important factor for looking after your bones, it is advised that you avoid smoking. Similarly, be mindful of your alcohol intake.