You must have heard time and time again about keeping your bones strong and healthy. The rationale behind is that the loss of bone strength can lead to osteoporosis — a condition in which your bones become very fragile and susceptible to fractures.
No matter how old you are, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure the optimal health of your bones. If you’re not exactly sure as to what and how, here are some tips to get you started.
1.) Increase your calcium and vitamin D intake.
Calcium is vital for bone strength. It is found naturally in many foods we eat, such as dairy products, almonds and almond milk, green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, and kale), fatty fish like salmon, and soy.
Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium in your body. Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish, red meat, mushrooms, fortified cereals and milk, and egg yolks. You can also get vitamin D from the sun—your best source. Early morning and late afternoon are the safest times of the day to get sun exposure.
Speak to your doctor about taking vitamin D and calcium supplements if you are not meeting the recommended daily intake for these nutrients.
2.) Stay active.
To help keep your bones healthy, incorporate exercises that force you to work against gravity: weight-bearing exercises (those that involve the bones that support your weight, e.g. climbing stairs) and resistance exercises (those that train your muscles to overcome resistance force, e.g. pushups and sit-ups).
3.) Limit caffeine consumption.
There has been an enduring debate about caffeine being a risk factor for osteoporosis. There have been studies that point to the negative effects of caffeine on calcium metabolism: the more caffeine a person drinks, the more calcium gets flushed out of their system.
To be safe, limit your caffeine consumption. If you are a perennially heavy coffee drinker, you might need to get your calcium excretion levels checked.
4.) Stop smoking.
Smoking has been identified by experts as one of the risk factors for osteoporosis. Smoking inhibits the body’s absorption of calcium.
The nicotine in cigarettes interferes with the production rate of bone-producing cells (osteoblasts). If osteoblasts aren’t able to build enough new bone (osteoids), bone-absorbing cells (osteoclasts) eventually overpower them.
5.) Avoid alcohol.
Research suggests that excessive alcohol use can also increase a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis. Excessive alcohol use means drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day for women, or two for men.
6.) Slow down on salt.
Consuming foods that have high salt content can cause urine calcium excretion. When your body excretes a lot of calcium, its levels in the blood can also get very low, thereby prompting your bones to release enough calcium to restore the normal calcium levels. This eventually leads to osteoporosis.
Try to avoid ultra-processed foods and limit the amount of salt that you add to the foods that you eat every day. Read food labels: if a food item lists 20% or more for the % daily value, it means that it is loaded with sodium. Aim to only have less than 2,400 mg of salt per day.
7.) Shun fad diets.
Fad diets or diet plans that significantly restrict food intake and drastically cut out certain food groups can render you unable to get enough calcium and other essential nutrients; thus, they can be harmful to your bones.
8.) Talk to your doctor about your medications.
There are certain medications—such as corticosteroids and those used for treating cancer—that when taken for a long time, can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. If you are taking these medications, speak to your doctor for advice.
9.) Check your hormone levels.
Low estrogen and testosterone levels are known culprits in osteoporosis. Without estrogen, osteoblasts also aren’t able to produce enough new bone. The prevalence of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women is ascribed to the dramatic decline in their estrogen levels during or after menopause. In men, testosterone levels start to drop after age 30 and continues to do so thereafter. Like what happens when a woman has low estrogen levels, men with low testosterone levels may also suffer from osteoporosis, as testosterone also has an indirect role in bone metabolism.
If you have hyperthyroidism (a condition in which your body produces too much thyroxine or T4), you also have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Hyperthyroidism can trigger an imbalance of bone-eroding activity by the osteoclasts.
It’s therefore prudent to have your doctor check your hormone levels and talk to them about hormone replacement if you have estrogen or testosterone deficiency or appropriate intervention if you have hyperthyroidism.
10.) See a bone specialist.
If you’re concerned that you may have risk factors for osteoporosis, you could greatly benefit from seeing a bone specialist. They will likely recommend a bone density test to determine whether you have either osteopenia (a condition in which you have slightly lower than normal bone density) or osteoporosis.
Based on the results of the bone density test, your bone specialist can ascertain whether you need intervention to slow the progression of your condition.
Bone Fragility Clinic in St. Peters and O’Fallon, MO
At Advanced Bone and Joint, our Bone Fragility Clinic offers DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) bone density scan—the gold standard for osteoporosis detection and fracture prevention. Through the DEXA bone density scan, we can determine your risk of developing osteoporosis over the next 10 years and educate you about everything that can be done to safeguard your bone health.
To find out more about our osteoporosis screening services or to book an appointment with one of our bone specialists, contact us at (636) 229-4222. Alternatively, you may request an appointment online.