The Importance of Bone Health
Good bone health ensures an increased overall quality of life. Healthy bones provide protection against injury, allow for mobility and house minerals essential to the performance of other systems in the body. Unhealthy bones may not only lead to injury and immobility, but may also cause other conditions in later life such as Osteoporosis where bones become more fragile due to a lack in calcium, allowing for fractures to occur much more easily.
How to Build Strong Bones
It is possible to build the strength of bones through a good diet and exercise regime, especially throughout the teenage years when bones are growing at a rapid rate.
The role of calcium in bone health
Calcium is the number one nutrient essential to the development of healthy bones. It is constantly being removed and replaced in small amounts from your bones by the body. Wwhen it’s removed faster than its replaced, bones become weaker and disease and injury may result. This is easily avoided by a diet rich in calcium, especially throughout the teenage years when it is necessary in the attainment of peak bone mass. Food rich in calcium may include:
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt.
- Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and bok choy.
- Soy products, such as tofu and fortified soy milk beverages.
- Fish, such as salmon and sardines that contain soft, calcium-rich bones.
- Seeds and nuts, such as Almonds, Brazil nuts and Tahini.
The role of Vitamin D in bone health
Recent scientific research has revealed Vitamin D to also be essential to bone health. It was demonstrated that inadequate levels of Vitamin D may lead to decreased muscle strength, and an increased risk of brittle bones, osteoporosis, risk of fall and bone fracture.
Vitamin Ds uniqueness lies in its ability to be synthesized from both food and sunlight. The body may synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight and store it in the skin in large amounts. Otherwise, it may be sourced from foods of animal origin, including:
- Cod Liver Oil
The role of Vitamin K in bone health
Science has also demonstrated the significant role Vitamin K plays in bone health. It has been shown to increase bone mineral density in those with osteoporosis, and also reduce their rate of fracture and bone breakage.
Good dietary sources of Vitamin K include:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Peas
- Mustard greens
The role of physical activity in bone health
New bone tissue formation is essential to good bone health. Weight-bearing exercise makes bones stronger by stimulating the production of new bone tissue. Bone density is then increased, bone loss is prevented and the risk of osteoporosis is reduced significantly.
By working against gravity and some resistance, weight bearing exercise causes muscles to work to develop strength that allows them to absorb more calcium.
Weight bearing exercise may include:
- Weight lifting
- Step aerobics
- Push ups
- Stair climbing
- Pump classes
- Fast walking with hand weights