4 Ways to Help Maintain Bone Strength as You Age

Bone Strength, Exercise, Nutrition

As a woman ages, she grows more vulnerable to developing the bone disease osteoporosis, which can lead to debilitating fractures and disability. Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone,” which means osteoporotic bones are less dense — less strong — than they should be, making them more likely to break during falls and in extreme cases — even due to a sneeze or minor bump.

You do lose bone as you age, but you can take plenty of steps to keep your bones strong and healthy and prevent osteoporosis. With National Osteoporosis Month approaching in May, let Capital Women’s Care help you understand what you can do.

Eat right

A healthy diet significantly reduces your risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D are essential to healthy bone preservation. Women prior to menopause benefit from at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and 1,200 milligrams once they’ve gone through menopause.

You get calcium in dairy products, fortified juices, leafy greens, canned fish with the bones, and tofu. We can also recommend high-quality calcium supplements if you find it hard to get these foods into your diet.

Vitamin D comes in foods such as fortified milk and yogurt, but can also be synthesized from the sun. In many parts of the country, getting enough vitamin D is difficult due to the seasons. Also, your body is less efficient at producing vitamin D as you age. We can measure your vitamin D levels and offer a high-powered supplement if you’re deficient.

Aim to get other nutrients such as vitamin B12, magnesium, and vitamin C in your diet as well. A balanced diet that includes lots of fresh produce, lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and healthy unsaturated fats helps you achieve these nutrient goals for strong bones.

Stop smoking and drink alcohol in moderation

Smoking decreases bone mass. If you’re having trouble stopping on your own, talk to us — we can help. Moderate alcohol consumption means one drink per day for women. If you choose to drink, stick to this amount.

Get active

Physical activity, especially including weight-bearing moves, is critical to strengthening your bones. The weight of exercise such as strength training or walking puts stress on the bones attached to your  muscles. Your bones sense the stress and build up in response.

Start with your own body weight when it comes to strength training — push-ups, even against a wall, and deep squats help. You can also involve machines or dumbbells to build bone strength in your arms, shoulders, and back.

If you have broken a bone due to osteoporosis or are at risk of doing so, we may advise you avoid high-impact exercise such as jumping or dancing. But you can still use elliptical trainers, walk, and climb stair-stepping machines. If you’re not sure how to use equipment, join a health center or gym and ask the trainers — that’s what they’re there for!

Test your bone density

If you’re older than 50, ask our providers about scheduling a bone density test. This test is important because if you do have osteoporosis, or the beginning stages, you can start treatment early before serious complications arise.

The team at Capital Women’s Care is available to help women in the Laurel and Silver Spring area live as healthfully as possible at all stages of life. Your bone health is a critical part of your well-being. Call or book your consultation online.

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