Seven simple steps to maintain bone health
Maximizing the health and strength of your bones is important at any age. Here are several things you can do on a daily basis to help you on the road to better bone health:
- Step 1 – Maintain adequate calcium intake – Calcium is vital for building and maintaining strong healthy bones. To obtain your recommended daily intake of calcium, include foods such as milk or yoghurt, or their non-dairy calcium-fortified alternatives, with your breakfast, add green leafy vegetables to your lunch and dinner, and snack on almonds and brazil nuts.1 A calcium supplement may benefit those who are unable to meet their calcium needs through diet alone.
- Step 2 – Exercise at least three times a week – Regular physical activity is a crucial part of building and maintaining healthy bones, but some forms of exercise are better than others. Bones respond to weight-bearing exercise. These are exercises that are done while you’re on your feet, so you bear your own weight. They include activities such as brisk walking, jogging, netball, basketball and impact aerobics.2
- Step 3 – Include resistance exercise in your routine – Resistance or strength training using hand weights, gym machines or your own body weight is also important for optimal bone health.
- Step 4: Get some sunshine – Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption and utilization of calcium in the body. The best natural source of vitamin D is through exposure to UV radiation via sensible sun exposure. But vitamin D supplements may be recommended for those who have limited exposure to the sun, cover up for cultural or religious reasons or have naturally very dark skin.
- Step 5: Maintain a healthy diet – In addition to calcium and vitamin D, our bones rely on a number of other important nutrients including magnesium, zinc, manganese and vitamin K. To achieve your recommended intake of these vitamins and minerals, consume a healthy balanced diet with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein. You could also consider a multivitamin to top up your daily intake.
- Step 6 : Kick those bad habits – It’s recommended to avoid smoking, limit alcohol intake to no more than two standard drinks a day, and keep tea and coffee intake to less than three cups per day.3
- Step 7: Maintain a healthy weight – Being too thin or overweight can impact bones and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.4
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Published February 22, 2015
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