Ways to Protect & Strengthen Bones

According to Michelle Warren, M.D., medical director of the Center for Menopause, Hormonal Disorders, and Women’s Health at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City; “Your overall health habits, especially in your teens, can affect your bones for the rest of your life.” Many women are said to develop at least 40 percent of their bone mass between the ages of 13 and 17. Women continue to add bone mass until they’re about 30, but nowhere near as much as they develop in their adolescent years. The National Osteoporosis Foundation stated that an estimated 41 million women over the age of 50 would be at risk for developing osteoporosis within 5 to 10 years from now. This case study isn’t unusual; many women have low bone mass, or osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis because of their previous habits during their teenage and early adulthood years. That estimation includes women who are in their twenties and thirties now. The majority of these women either dieted or exercised to the point of amenorrhea (loss of periods), didn’t get enough calcium and vitamin D (two major bone builders), smoke or chronically use certain medications such as steroids for asthma.

Follow these eight easy steps to start protecting your bones if you are in your twenties, thirties, and forties to enrich your current crucial bone building years.

Step 1. Always pay attention to your period.

See you primary physician, if you miss your period for at least three consecutive months. It may mean you are low on estrogen, a naturally produced hormone that protects bones. Upon consulting your doctor, he/she may prescribe a form of birth control pills to better regulate your bodies’ hormone levels.

Step 2. Support your bodies’ need for Calcium

Experts estimate that many women consume less than half of 1,200 milligrams of calcium, which is needed daily. Several good and easy sources of calcium are found in skim milk, low fat yogurt, and calcium fortified fruit such as oranges or the juice from grapefruit. If you feel like you are not getting a sufficient amount of calcium daily, take a calcium supplement, which can be found at any local drugstore. Find one with Vitamin D also; vitamin D will help maximize the minerals absorption into the body. These types of supplements typically come in two forms; Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, which your body will absorb well. Calcium carbonate is most effectively broken down by stomach acid. For reference, your body can only handle and absorb a certain amount of these supplements at one time, so do not take more than 500 mg at one sitting.

Step 3. Steer clear from Caffeine

Caffeine may interfere with your bodies’ calcium absorption. If you drink coffee, tea or soda, limit yourself to 2 – 3 cups a day. While drinking caffeinated beverages, your body fails to absorb calcium, so to make up for the loss, include and extra 40-50 mg of in calcium your diet.

Step 4. Limit your salt intake.

The maximum recommended daily intake of sodium is 2,400 mg. Such as Caffeine, excess sodium also causes much of your bodies’ calcium loss. Be aware of labels on any beverage or food you might eat. Avoid packaged foods such as pretzels, chips, popcorn and canned soups; they all tend to be crammed with sodium.

Step 5. Do Bone-building exercises.

An excellent and simple impact exercise for bone building and strengthening is the vertical jump. It’s simple! You literally jump straight up into the air and land flat on your feet. Studies have shown that women who perform the vertical jump about 300 times in a week increased their bone mass in their hips by almost 3%. For reference, to avoid injury build knee strength by doing squats and leg extensions, and practice your form. Some other exercises that strengthen and build bone include high-impact activities like running, jogging, and aerobics classes, along with weightlifting.

Step 6. Add the right amount of Protein to your diet.

You need approximately 50 grams of protein daily, which you can get by eating most meats, fish, nuts, a/o powders. Most diets containing more or less than that amount of protein are associated with a decrease in bone density. Several other good sources of protein include yogurt, eggs, low-fat cheese, tofu and skim milk.

Step 7. Limit Vitamin A.

Read all supplement and food labels containing Vitamin A, and check for the amounts to make sure you are not getting too much. “Vitamin A may cause bones to gradually break down faster than they are able to build”, explains Dian Feskanich, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Choose a basic multivitamin specifically that has at least 20 % of its Vitamin A derived from beta-carotene, which doesn’t harm the bones the way Vitamin A from retinol can. Some studies state that women whom consumed higher amounts of vitamin A had the greatest occurrence of bone loss in the hips.

Step 8. Increase your daily servings of fruits and veggies.

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of two major nutrients that your body uses to protect bones; these nutrients, excluding calcium and Vitamin D, are magnesium and potassium. Women who consume at least 5 servings of fruits a/o vegetables daily had greater bone density than those who didn’t, according to a recent study.

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