As we age, the systems in our bodies slow down and we could be losing bone mass as early as our 30s and bone health is important at any age. There are ways to promote healthy bone mass, if you start early your chances of having healthy bones going forward as you age is excellent. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone tissue and if we don’t get enough calcium in our diets, our bodies start to break down and use the calcium that’s already in our bones, causing bone loss. Here are some important facts about aging and bone loss.
The size of our skeletons and bone mass is determined by genetics and our diets. Peak bone mass is defined as our maximum bone size and strength. Diet and exercise are important factors in determining our peak bone mass as we age. There is a limited time frame in which we can actually build our peak bone mass, and that is during times of rapid growth such as adolescence and early adulthood.
On the other hand there are certain things such as unhealthy diet, smoking and not exercising that will actually cause us to lose significant bone mass by age 40. Most individuals will reach peak bone mass by age 25-30, so it is super important to keep a healthy lifestyle before we age.
Bone Loss / Osteoporosis
Bone loss as we age is inevitable, but it can be slowed down significantly. What exactly causes us to lose bone mass? Osteoporosis is a condition where our bodies lose bone mass leading to more fractures and even lost height. The main cause of age related bone loss and osteoporosis is a lack of certain hormones, mainly estrogen in women and androgen in men.
Women over 60 years old and who are in the menopause stage in life are frequently diagnosed with this disease. During menopause lower estrogen levels can increase a womans risk for osteoporosis. Certain autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can also have an effect such as loss of bone density and osteoporosis. With more than 3 million cases in the US yearly, we need to take a look at our diets.
If you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet throughout your life also brings on weak brittle bones. Low calcium intake contributes to early bone loss as well as certain eating disorders and also genetics. Thankfully now there are medications that have been developed to slow down bone loss and in severe cases, bone can be replaced with bone forming medications. Let’s take a look at how to slow down and reverse bone loss.
How To Slow Down / Reverse Bone Loss
Technology and medicine has come a long way, now we have medications that can actually help your body stop or slow down bone loss and even form new bone mass. First I want to show you some natural ways to increase bone density:
- Eating more vegetables – Vegetables that are low calorie and high in fiber and minerals are important for bone strength. Studies show that Vitamin C can help protect bones from damage. Green and yellow veggies, such as bell peppers and broccoli are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C. In adults they have been shown to maintain bone strength and density. Another study showed that post menopausal women who ate 9 servings of broccoli, cabbage and other veggies and certain herbs for 3 months showed reduced calcium loss and the researchers attributed the results to the boost in potassium and polyphenols in their diet.
- Strength Training – Studies have shown that strength training and weightlifting helps to promote bone growth and maintaining the existing bone mass you already have. Benefits of strength and weigh training include increased bone size, reduction in inflammation, increased muscle mass, increased bone mineral density, and protection against bone loss.
- Added calcium in your daily diets – As we know calcium is the number one nutrient for bone health. As our bones break down everyday it is important to add calcium to our diets. Our bodies absorb calcium best by getting small amounts added to our diets throughout the day rather than one big meal that is high calcium. Foods rich in calcium are dairy, milk, yogurt, cheese, beans and sardines. As well as some leafy greens such as kale.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – We know that being overweight is not good for our health in so many ways, but maintaining a healthy weight and not being too underweight is essential for bone health. We should avoid rapid weight loss and gain too much weight adds stress to our bones and being underweight can contribute to bone disease. Rapid weight loss cycles of losing weight then gaining it back will cause you to lose bone density and when the weight is gained back, bone that is lost is not replaced.
- Vitamin D & Vitamin K – Vitamin K is important to bone health by helping minerals bind to the bones and reducing calcium loss. Foods rich in Vitamin K include, cheese, sauerkraut, and a soybean product called natto. Vitamin D is essential in helping the body absorb calcium. Individuals with a Vitamin D deficiency are at high risk for loss of bone mass. Vitamin D also comes from the sun and there are supplements you can take as well. Always speak to your doctor before trying a new diet or supplements. A simple blood test at the doctor can determine if you have a Vitamin D deficiency.
- Eat High Protein diet – Getting enough protein in your diet is essential to bone health and bone density overall. A study was conducted involving about 144,000 post menopausal women and it was found that eating a high protein diet had a boost in overall bone density. Those participants that ate more protein also saw fewer fractures.
There are medications you can get from your doctor if you’re at risk for osteoporosis and experiencing rapid bone loss, which can be determined through testing from your doctor. With these medications along with dietary changes, you can slow down or reverse bone loss. Some of these medications called Bisphosphonates and certain hormones include:
- Zoledronic acid (Reclast)
- Risedronate (Actonel)
- Ibandronate (Boniva)
- Alendronate (Fosamax)
- raloxifene (Evista)
- Denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva)
Starting early with a healthy diet and following the steps above to reduce bone loss and promote bone health are important because we can see we start to lose bone early in life, this shouldn’t wait. Maintain a healthy weight, get enough exercise and getting a yearly physical can help keep your bones healthy.
Aging and bone loss are a part of getting older, but as we see there are many solutions these days that can help. Magnesium and Zinc are known to promote bone density and calcium absorption, I take a supplement that has all 3 you can find here on Amazon.
Always speak to your doctor before starting any new supplements or diet and exercise program. Have you found any other ways to promote bone health? I would love to hear any comments or questions down below. Thanks for reading!
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