Bone health not only determines the strength of your bodies’ literal framework but also has a massive impact on your quality of life.
The calcium that keeps your bones healthy is also needed for every function in your body. So your goal, at any age, is to achieve and maintain peak bone mass. But what is it, and how do we get it?
Strong bones are essential to your body in more ways than posture. Strong bones provide stability, strength, and support for your body, as well as making you look and feel younger. Your bones provide support for your muscles and protect your internal organs. They help you to move, dance, run, and enjoy all kinds of physical activities.
Strong bones protect you from diseases like osteoporosis. This is potentially a severe disease as it causes bones to become so thin and weak that fractures can easily happen. Osteoporosis affects men and women alike, with most injuries occurring in the hips, spine, and wrists. Sadly, men have a higher fatality rate with hip injuries due to osteoporosis.
Strong bones also play a huge role in athletic performance. In addition to how you’re able to run, walk, or jump, regular exercise fortifies your bones. There is a reciprocal relationship between exercise and bone strength. Up to age 30 or so, are your bone-building years. This is the time of your life when you can build bone density - an investment that will pay off for the rest of your life.
Peak bone mass is the maximum bone density, size, and strength you can achieve over your lifetime.
As mentioned earlier, the best time to increase bone density is before age 30 - childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, because by age 40, it begins to gradually decrease. This doesn’t mean that decrease can’t happen before 40 though - poor nutrition, smoking, inactivity, or excessive alcohol consumption can hinder density building. Many factors contribute to peak bone mass, and even as you age, you can do things to slow bone mass decline.
Many factors contribute to your peak bone mass, but here are some of the main ones:
If you think of bones as a savings account and bone tissue as its balance to be deposited or withdrawn, people should invest as much as possible in their youth. Unfortunately, medical and family history may hinder this.
Up to 90% of bone mass is acquired by age 20, but the following conditions can reduce peak bone mass or simply harm bone density overall:
Childhood diseases like kidney, liver, rheumatic, neoplastic, and neuromuscular diseases.
Endocrine and seizures
Additionally, heredity accounts for 65% of your bone health.
Lifestyle choices, as mentioned earlier, can have an impact on the strength of your bones. For instance, regular exercise and a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D will enable you to ‘deposit’ plenty in your bone tissue account.
Conversely, less-ideal lifestyle choices like smoking, excessive drinking, having a nutrient-deficient diet, and inactivity have all been linked to poor bone density.
Men have higher bone density than women, although, before puberty, they’re roughly equal. After puberty, men soar ahead in the bone mass race. This raises the question of how gender transitioning and hormone therapy might affect bone density, but the National Institute of Health didn’t find substantial differences.
The conversation around bone health revolves heavily around calcium so people might be surprised about the bone building benefits of regular exercise. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), weight-bearing, high-impact exercises, like stair climbing, dancing, running, or jumping rope, are excellent ways to strengthen your bones.
If you are already dealing with osteoporosis or a prior bone injury, you can try low-impact, weight-bearing exercises, like low-impact aerobics or walking. Other weight-bearing exercises include resistance training, like weight lifting, weight machines, or functional bodyweight exercises.
Maximizing peak bone mass via exercise is extremely important to keep in mind as it’s one of the factors we have the most control over. Additionally, exercise provides cardiovascularI health benefits so find an activity you enjoy and get started today!
While men have higher bone density than women, black women tend to have greater bone density than white women, even in childhood and adolescence. The reasons for this are still unclear.
Hormones play an especially significant role in bone density for women. Women who use oral contraceptives containing estrogen have higher bone density than women who don’t. Conversely, women whose menstrual cycles end because of low body weight or excessive exercise lose bone density which does not rebound later.
A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D will go a long way in assuring your bone strength. Calcium deficiencies in your youth can cause fracture risk to be more significant as you age. About 1,300 mg of calcium is needed between 10 years old and 20 years old. This might seem like a lot, but you can achieve this with:
If you don’t eat dairy products, fish, green leafy vegetables, and tofu also contain calcium. In addition, many foods are fortified with calcium such as certain braids of orange juice, almond milk, and more.
Vitamin D is often paired with calcium to increase its absorption. Carbonated beverages, like soda, reduce your ability to absorb calcium and cause depletion of mass in the bones.
After age 40, calcium intake should be about 1,000 mg with 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day. After age 50, men may continue with 1,000 mg of calcium, but menopausal women (and post-menopausal) should increase their intake to 1,200 mg each day. By age 70, both men and women should be getting 1,200 mg of calcium per day with 800 IU of vitamin D.
Having strong bones is essential for a healthy and fulfilling life. You can build healthy bones from childhood with a calcium-rich diet and plenty of activity. Those early investments in your health will pay big dividends later in life. But if you didn’t make good choices earlier in life, it’s not too late to fortify your bones with calcium supplements. Consider your age and lifestyle, and supplement accordingly.
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This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. If you have immediate concerns about your health, please seek the help of a medical professional.