Keeping your bones healthy and strong is especially important as we age, when even minor falls can lead to major breaks and complications.
Most people reach their peak bone mass around the age of 30 – after that, you begin to gradually lose more bone mass than you gain. The good news is, maintaining your bone health is easier than you might think.
By prioritising a combination of diet and exercise habits you can improve and maintain bone density as much as possible.
Here’s some practical ways you can prevent osteoporosis and keep your bones strong.
Increase calcium intake
Women are most at risk of developing osteoporosis past menopause, so once over 50 you should aim to consume 1,200mg of calcium daily. Men of the same age should aim for at least 1,000 mg. After the age of 70, they should also consume 1,200 mg. You can do this by eating calcium-rich foods and, if necessary, taking calcium supplements. Dairy products, dark green vegetables and foods like salmon, almonds, soybeans and sardines are all a good source of calcium.
Get enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is also essential for maintaining bone health as it helps your body absorb calcium. Exposure to sunlight helps your body naturally produce Vitamin D, but as we age and aren’t spending as much time outdoors we might not be getting as much we need. People aged 51 to 70 should aim for at least 600 IU of Vitamin D daily. Your doctor may advise a Vitamin D supplement, but you can easily get your intake by eating foods like herring, sardines, salmon, tuna, liver, eggs and fortified milk.
Prioritise physical activity
Exercise has a positive impact on nearly every aspect of our wellbeing, and bone health is no exception. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily; activities like walking, stair climbing, gardening, weight-lifting and dancing are all great exercises for optimum bone health.
Limit tobacco and alcohol
Smoking and drinking too much alcohol can have a negative impact on your bone health – research suggests tobacco contributes to weak bones and alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Quit or cut back on smoking and keep your alcohol intake to less than two drinks a day.
How do you keep your bones healthy?