No bones about it: good bone health is essential!

Our bones carry us through life, supporting us and allowing us to move, jump, play sports, dance and conduct all of our daily activities. Our bones provide structure for our body – our whole body is really quite miraculous itself! We often don’t pay much attention to bone health unless we are trying to get our kids to drink their milk or we are privileged to be over the age of 55 or so and are concerned with preventing bone loss.

There is a wealth of information on bone health, preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis, and treating low bone density. Here are a few key points (although this is definitely not comprehensive):

  • A bone density scan is recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force for women over the age of 65 but not for men of any age. If you have any family history of osteopenia or osteoporosis, talk with your doctor about screening to ensure your bones are in tip-top shape.

  • Risk factors for low bone density include cigarette smoking, steroid use, excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, early menopause, malnutrition and other chronic diseases.

  • Calcium is an important mineral for your bones – along with a handful of other vitamins and minerals, such as phosporus, magnesium, boron, strontium, silicon, vitamins D and K, folate and more.

  • To provide the best support for your bones, i.e. preventing and even reversing bone density loss as well as maintaining healthy bone density and mineralization, look for high-quality products that contain a blend of the above. (A naturopathic doctor can help recommend the right product for you.)

  • Milk does contain calcium; however, so do many other foods! Dark leafy greens are an especially good source of calcium, as are sardines, almonds, kefir and specifically-labeled fortified foods.

  • If you or your child has a dairy sensitivity or allergy, switch out the milk for one of these alternatives.

  • Weight-bearing exercise is important for maintaining bone health. By using weights to exercise, you place stress (in a good sense here) on your bones, causing your body to increase your bone mineralization and density. If your body knows its bones have work to do, such as weights, it will respond accordingly.

  • This is a huge factor in bone health. If you are a woman over the age of 65 or post-menopausal, practice weight-bearing exercises three times a week (non-consecutive days).

  • Walking, running and moving is great – you especially want to do the weight-bearing exercises with your arms and legs.

  • Arms: holding 3-5 pound weights, do some bicep curls, extended arm raises, arms above your head, and so on. Choose at least 3 exercises, do 10 reps of each, alternating between them, and repeat three times.

  • Legs: standing close to a wall (for support if needed), stand on one leg for a full minute. Switch legs. Repeat three times on each leg.

  • Search “weight bearing exercises” for more ideas.

  • Please check with your doctor before starting new exercise, as appropriate 🙂

The information provided here is not intended to replace medical advice or to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please consult your doctor with specific questions and prior to beginning any significant diet or lifestyle changes.