Dem Bones, Dem Bones! The Low Down on Bone Density

To stay active in life, strong bones are vital. The problem is that our bones start becoming thinner as we get older since after age 30 one to two percent of bone is lost each year. As osteoblasts make new bone, osteoclasts break down old bone which puts more calcium into the body, but the breaking down process takes more bone away than we can replace. Bone loss is even worse for women than men since women have bones that are smaller and thinner than men’s to begin with. Then during menopause as estrogen production decreases there is less protection against osteoclasts breaking down bone. Osteoporosis is often the result and 80% of people in this country with osteoporosis are women. Osteoporosis occurs when old bone breaks down faster than new bone can be produced. That causes bone to weaken and be more prone to getting broken or fractured. There are ways to help keep your bones strong and increase your bone density that will help you keep your active life on track.

Nutrition for Strong Bones
For strong bones, calcium is absolutely necessary, but studies show that 64% of people in this country do not get enough. Until you reach the age of 50, the recommended amount of calcium is 1000 mg. daily. After that age for women this increases to 1200 mg. and men over 70 also need this increased amount. If you do not get enough calcium in your diet, the body will take calcium from your bones, which causes them to become thinner. Usually when we think of calcium food sources, we think of milk and that’s right as milk has 300 mg. in an eight ounce cup, but there are many other food sources to get calcium from. You can get the same amount of calcium in one cup of yogurt as you can in that eight ounce cup of milk and one ounce of Swiss cheese will also give you that much calcium. If you have trouble eating diary due to lactose intolerance, get a lactose-free brand and you’ll still get the calcium. There are non-dairy food sources to get calcium from also. These include sardines, tofu, soy, kale, bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, turnip greens and foods such as orange juice or cereals that are fortified with calcium. If you have trouble getting enough calcium into your diet, stay away from salt as it depletes calcium in the body. Also avoid foods that have high amounts of oxalic acid like spinach, sweet potatoes, rhubarb and beans as they interfere with calcium absorption.

In addition to calcium, strong bones require vitamin D. Vitamin D helps in the body absorbing the calcium. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are not only a good source of vitamin D, but are also full of omega-3 fatty acids which can also help with bone density and strength. If you just don’t like fish, you can take fish oil supplements as they have been reported to help in a reduction of bone loss in women and fight off osteoporosis. AFA bluegreen alage is also a great source for omega-3 and calcium. One study in Greece reported women with lots of omega-3 and monounsaturated fats in the diet had the most bone density. Olive oil, fish and very little red meat seemed to be the best diet according to this study for bone density. Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D by exposure to sunlight so if you are able to get outside for a bit each week you may get enough that way. The recommended amount for adults of vitamin D is 600 IU up to the age of 70 and then increases to 800 IU.

Adult stem cells have the ability to divide and renew themselves for long periods of time, and they can give rise to specialized cells. Stem cells have the remarkable ability to repair and regenerate your body. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function. New stem cells can migrate to the areas of the body where they are needed most as we grow older thus serving as a repair system for the body. Keeping your natural adult stem cells nourished is a good way to support this process. This stem cell support supplement has been shown in vitro laboratory studies to increase the growth of adult stem cells that support the body’s natural renewal system with nutrition that enables stem cells to flourish, and that protects existing stem cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Another supplement that can provide the whole food nutrition that cells need to stay healthy as we age is this ubiquinol and algae supplement. Ubiquinol is the active and bioavailable form of Coenzyme Q10 which is a critically important antioxidant for proper cell function.

Exercise for Strong Bones
Bones also benefit from weight bearing exercises as they increase bone density, impede the loss of bone, and build muscle. These are types of exercises where gravity puts stress on bones and muscles while you are supported on legs and feet which results in increasing cells. Walking, dancing, jumping jacks, skiing, stair climbing, weight lifting, resistance exercise, aerobics, and yoga are examples of this type of exercise that will build strong bones and increase muscle mass. If you can’t walk outside, walk around the house or go to a nearby mall or get a treadmill. Yoga, especially positions that target hips, spine and wrists, not only makes bones strong, but also is good for increasing flexibility and posture. According to a Harvard study on women after menopause that took up Tai Chi, it was found that they had more bone density and that bone loss was reduced as soon as they began this practice. Of course before beginning any exercise program, it is a good idea to check with your health care provider to make sure it is safe for you with any specific medical conditions you have. This is especially true if you have osteoporosis and/or have suffered a fracture or break.

Osteoporosis and the Importance of Bone Density
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thin enough to be at increased risk for breakage or fracture. It is a condition that is especially prevalent in postmenopausal women because this is when they produce less estrogen which can increase the risk of bone loss and calcium loss. This is why it is important to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet and work on bone density at a younger age. One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that of the 200,000 women in the study almost half of them had bones that were thinning and were unaware of it. One of the problems with osteoporosis is that is does go undetected often because of the lack of symptoms until real problems begin such as fractures, breaks or a reduction in height. Osteoporosis can be detected by having a bone density test done which is an X-ray that the National Osteoporosis Foundation advises women have if they are over 65 years old or any age if they have risk factors and that men have if they are over 70 years old or if they have risk factors then after the age of 50. According to Silvina Levis-Dusseau, MD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, we don’t have to just assume osteoporosis is something we have to endure as we get older because we can strengthen bones through diet, exercise, and by being aware of risks through a bone density test. Risk factors to look for include other family members having the condition, having a small body frame, smoking, inactivity, irregular menstrual periods, history of taking steroids and excessive alcohol consumption. Another useful test in determining risk of bone thinning or osteoporosis is one developed by the World Health Organization that assesses risk in various areas to bone health. This test gives you a FRAX score that is useful in determining what types of treatment and lifestyle changes can help support your bone health. You can use this tool by going to and clicking on Calculation Tool.

We all want to be able to stay active and enjoying life for as long as we possibly can. This means you need to pay attention to your bone health and get started now developing good habits to support your bones so your bones can literally keep supporting you. 

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