Bone Health & Osteoporosis Prevention
Keeping Your Bones Healthy and Strong!
Something that is easy to forget about, but is essential to remember for improved long-term health and wellbeing is bone health. Today, I am going to discuss the importance of maintaining bone health for Osteoporosis prevention! As a senior Nutrition major, this is something that is a common topic for discussion in most of my classes, but is a health-related topic that is often overlooked until it is too late. Osteoporosis occurs when your bones have a lot of tiny little holes in them which puts you at high risk for breaking them.
Over the course of your lifetime, you need calcium circulating in your blood for good cardiovascular health, muscle contraction, and strong bones. There are two ways in which calcium gets into your bloodstream to help your body. One way is through the diet. When you eat or drink calcium-rich foods and beverages, the calcium is absorbed into your bloodstream through your intestines. In addition to helping cardiovascular functioning and muscle contraction, calcium goes to your bones to keep them strong and supportive for your body. But when you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, calcium will leave your bones to go into your bloodstream to keep your heart beating and muscles contracting. Normally, the calcium is replaced in your bones later on, but if you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, your bones may start to become weakened and develop tiny holes throughout. If this occurs over decades, you can eventually develop Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease and is especially prevalent in white women who are 50 and older. Now if you don’t find yourself identifying with this small section of the general population, this does not mean that you are not at risk. That is because, if you are human and have bones; you still have some risk of developing the disease later in life.
Fear not though, because you can start prevention at a very young age. Even if you didn’t drink milk at dinner every night during your childhood, if you are under age 30, there is still time to maximize your bone density! Right around age 30, your bones will be at peak density. After this point, due to hormonal changes and aging, your bones will start to lose calcium to your bloodstream faster than it can be replaced. This slow and steady decline can lead to Osteoporosis. But if you are meeting the daily recommendations for calcium intake, then you can maximize the density of your bones. When you have high density bones, it is going to take longer for them to become weakened which in turn, can decrease risk later in life for developing Osteoporosis. The recommendation for calcium intake for males and females is 1,000 mg per day.
Now if you are over 30, you can still decrease risk for developing osteoporosis later in life by engaging in weight bearing activities everyday like walking, running, or lifting weights. You can also ensure that you are getting plenty of calcium in your diet and meeting the daily recommendations of 1,000 mg per day for males and females.
Having healthy bones over the course of your lifetime allows you to engage in all sorts of physical activity without major risk! Remember to add a source of calcium to your next meal such as dairy products, calcium-fortified foods, and dark leafy greens.