You’re leading a busy, active life, putting as much as you can into every day. But you need to take time out for your own health, especially to take care of your bones.
Typically, when most people think about health, they don’t think about their bones. But did you ever stop to think that having healthy bones will have benefits for you today and in the future?
The benefits you get right away are a strong body, more energy, and a terrific, healthy look — all from the diet and exercise you do to build your bones.
The biggest benefit you’ll enjoy in your later years is prevention of osteoporosis, a painful and disfiguring bone disease that occurs in many older people.
By taking a few simple steps every day, you’ll build bone density that will last you for the rest of your life.
YOUR ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD GOOD BONES
Bones are not lifeless structures that hold people upright, but are, in fact, living tissue. Bone changes constantly, with bits of old bone being removed and new bone being laid down. Think of bone as a bank account, where you make “deposits” and “withdrawals” of bone tissue.
During normal childhood and adolescence, much more bone is deposited than withdrawn,
so that the skeleton grows both in size and density. The amount of tissue or bone mass in the skeleton can continue to increase until the mid-30s. At this point, the amount of bone typically begins to decline slowly, as withdrawals exceed deposits of new bone.
Around the time of menopause, the ovaries’ production of estrogen diminishes. The loss of estrogen greatly accelerates the loss of bone in most women.
OSTEOPOROSIS: Start Now To Prevent It
The most important reason to work on your bones is to prevent osteoporosis, an exaggerated loss of bone tissue that makes bones weak and easy to fracture.
Osteoporosis strikes women who do not have enough bone mass. With osteoporosis, simply bending over to tie your shoe can put you at risk of a serious fracture.
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, it can be prevented. But you must work on building strong bones now, while you’re young. During your young adult years, you can take advantage of your once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to build up a bank account of bone density, so you’ll have plenty of bone mass to “withdraw” when the time comes. If you didn’t get enough calcium as a teen, you can make up for that deficiency in your 20’s. With proper diet and exercise, you can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Some antacids are made mostly of calcium carbonate, and some people use them as calcium supplements. However, some antacids don’t contain any calcium at all. Instead, they contain aluminum which can cause increased calcium loss through the kidneys. Read the label!
Regular weight-bearing exercise, which causes muscles to work against gravity, can help build bone density. Walking is an excellent weight-bearing exercise, as are jogging, tennis, and dancing. Experts believe that other forms of exercise, like swimming, bicycling, and rowing, while not precisely weight-bearing, are probably beneficial as well. The bottom line is that any physical activity is better than nothing! And keeping active allows you to eat more without gaining weight, making it easier to maintain an adequate intake of calcium and other nutrients.
Adopt an active lifestyle. Walk short distances instead of driving. Do housework and yardwork that involves lifting and carrying. If you spend a lot of time at a desk in your office, it’s especially important that you exercise. Use the stairs instead of the elevator and whenever possible, walk to appointments.
HEALTHY HABITS MAKE HEALTHY BONES
Certain substances are toxic to bones:
- • Smoking is toxic to bone cells, and extra calcium can’t make up for the damage.
- • Alcohol abuse is. also- detrimental. Not only is it directly toxic to bones, but it also interferes with proper nutrition.
To help protect your bone density, avoid smoking and practice moderation with alcoholic beverages.
PREGNANCY AND MOTHERHOOD
If you are pregnant or nursing an infant, you need even more calcium in your diet, both for yourself and your child’s early bone development. Your baby’s calcium needs will be satisfied by taking calcium from your bones, be sure to protect your bone density by increasing your intake of this essential nutrient.
|If Pregnant or Nursing||Calcium Needed Daily|
|Under 19 years old||1,600 mg.|
|19 or older||1,200 mg.|
ESTROGEN REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Estrogen, a hormone produced naturally by the ovaries, appears to slow or stop bone loss, lowering the chances that osteoporosis will develop.
Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) has been used to help prevent osteoporosis in women who no longer produce estrogen because of menopause or surgical removal of the ovaries.
ERT can help – but it also has risks. If you are interested in learning more, you should discuss ERT with your doctor.