Bones are an integral part of our body and play a number of important roles – from providing structure, safeguarding organs, anchoring muscles to storing minerals like calcium and phosphorus which keep our bones strong and also let the body use them when needed. While it’s crucial to build strong and healthy bones when you are a child, there are many useful things you can do in adulthood to protect bone health as well.
Why is bone health important?
As a rule of thumb, your bones are constantly changing – old bones get broken down, paving way for new bones. When you are young, your body is equipped to make new bones much faster than it breaks down old bones and as a result, there is an increase in bone mass. For most people, peak bone mass is reached when you are around the age of 30. While the bone remodelling process continues, but over time, you tend to lose slightly more bone mass than you gain. The likelihood of Osteoporosis, a common condition that comes with age making your bones weak and brittle, depends on the amount of bone mass you have by the age of 30, and how quickly it depreciates post that. The higher your peak bone mass (the more bone that you accrue ‘in the bank’) , the lower your chances to develop osteoporosis with age. Older adults who suffer from osteoporosis are rendered vulnerable to breaking wrists, hip and spine which can seriously restrict mobility and independence.
Peak bone mass
The maximum bone and strength that we attain is known as peak bone mass. Genes are responsible for the amount of bone mass we have. Peak bone mass can be largely increased between the age of 10 and 20 with the aid of proper nutrition including calcium-rich diet and regular exercise. While genes are mostly the determinants of our peak bone mass, lifestyle factors contribute to it too. The years when we experience rapid growth, like childhood, adolescence and early adulthood are the best time to build bone density. However, factors like smoking, inadequate nutrition, inactivity and excessive alcohol intake can directly affect the building of peak bone mass. While everybody experiences bone loss to a degree, people who could reach a higher peak bone mass while they are young remain better protected against osteoporosis and related fractures when they age.
Which factors affect bone health?
- The calcium-richness of your diet plays a big role for your bone health. A diet that is low in calcium will lead to diminished bone density, premature bone loss and a heightened risk of fractures.
- Physical inactivity contributes to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Regular physical activity keeps the bones strong, just like muscles, reducing the risk of the occurrence of osteoporosis.
- Research points that tobacco and alcohol use can lead to weak bones. Smoking inhibits the body from using the calcium in your diet. Also, women who smoke usually experience menopause earlier than people who don’t.
- As a woman, you are prone to the risk of osteoporosis more than men. Women have less bone tissue and smaller bones than men. Also due to the hormonal changes that typically follow after menopause, women tend to lose bone faster.
- If you are extremely thin(with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small body frame, you are at risk of osteoporosis as you might have less reservoir of bone mass to draw from as you get older.
- As you age, your bones typically becomes thinner and weaker
- If you’re white or of Asian descent, you are at a great risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, if you have a family history of osteoporosis, it puts you at greater risk.
- A high count of thyroid hormones can lead to bone loss. Bone loss increases significantly after menopause due to decreased estrogenic levels. Prolonged absence of menstruation( amenorrhea) before menopause is another factor that increases osteoporosis risk. Low testosterone levels in men can also cause bone loss.
- People suffering from anorexia or bulimia can experience higher degree of bone loss. In addition to that, stomach surgery (gastrectomy), weight loss surgery along with conditions like Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease and Cushing’s disease make your body absorb less calcium.
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications like prednisone, prednisolone, cortisone and dexamethasone, is harmful for bones. Other such drugs that heightens the risk of osteoporosis are aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital and proton pump inhibitors.
Ways to make bones healthy
- It all starts with your diet. Fill it with low-fat dairy products and food/drinks with added calcium. For adults aged between 19 to 50 and men between 51 to 70, the Recommended Dietary Allowance(RDA) is 1000 milligrams(mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation goes up to 1200 mg a day for women after the age of 50 and for men after the age of 70. Good sources of calcium include almonds, kale, broccoli, sardines, salmon and tofu. If your diet lacks enough calcium, you can take a look at supplements that will supply your diet with the proper amount of daily calcium intake.
- Vitamin D is integral for calcium absorption. For adults between the age of 19 and 70, the RDA of Vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day. For adults aged 71 and older, the recommendation increases to 800 IUs. Oily fish like salmon, trout, whitefish and tuna are good sources of Vitamin D, along with mushrooms, eggs, fortified food, milk and cereals. Exposing yourself to sunlight also enables the body to produce vitamin D.
- Engage yourself with physical activities on a daily basis. Weight-bearing exercise like jogging, walking, scaling stairs are a good way of building strong bones and delay bone loss.
- Avoid smoking and drinking as much as possible. If you are a woman, limit yourself to only one alcoholic drink a day(if you consume alcohol) and not more than two alcoholic drinks a day, if you are a man.
What is Osteoporosis?
The condition where there is a decrease in the density of bone that leads to reduction of bone strength and fragile bones, is called Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis gives rise to abnormally porous bones that can be compressed like a sponge. This condition weakens the bones, resulting in frequent fractures. These fractures can happen due to relatively minor injury that should normally not cause a bone to fracture. The fractures usually happen in the form of cracking ( like hip fracture) or collapsing (like compression fracture of the vertebrae of the spine). The common areas of such bone fractures are in the spine, wrists and ribs. Osteoporosis can be present in an individual without any symptoms for a really long time until there is fracture. So, many patients may not even be aware of the condition until there is a case of a painful fracture. Osteoporotic bone fractures can lead to considerable pain, diminished quality of life and disability.
The main goal of the treatment for osteoporosis is in its prevention. While early detection and timely treatment can significantly decrease the risks of further fractures, there is no available treatment for it that completely cures it. This is to say that it is quite difficult to rebuild bones that have been impaired by osteoporosis. This makes prevention of osteoporosis as important as its treatment.
How to prevent Osteoporosis
- While exercise does not bring in substantial increase in bone density, it helps with diminishing the risks of falls, improved balance and increased muscle strength. The most common form of exercise that doctors recommend weight-bearing exercise like walking. However, it is important to remember that exercises that may injure already weakened bones should be avoided.
- Smoking should be avoided as smoking a pack of cigarettes daily throughout adult life may lead to loss of 5%-10% bone mass. Smoking cigarettes causes a drop in estrogen levels that can lead to bone loss in women before menopause. Postmenopausal women who smoke are at an increased risk of osteoporosis.
- Adequate dietary intake of calcium in both childhood and adolescence is needed to build strong and healthy bones for both sexes. Additionally vitamin D is also required to maintain healthy bones.
QNET’s Nutriplus BoneHealth
Protecting and strengthening your bones are no longer a worry; QNET’s Nutriplus BoneHealth is a supplement which provides essential minerals and vitamins that are required for promoting bone health. A combination of calcium, magnesium, zinc along with vitamins C and D provide all required bone-protecting nutrients.
- Healthy bones and teeth
- Preserves bone density
- Healthy muscle and nerve functions
- Regular heart beat and clotting
- Regulates biochemical activity in the body
- Healthy bone