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To enjoy the goodness of life, strong bones are a must. Tips to have healthy bones are given to help you get the most of what life has to offer. It is now in your hands to live better and healthier.

There are 206 bones making up the framework of the human body

Bones provide attachment to muscles at various points to support movements. They protect vital organs from injuries, store minerals that support biological processes and provide sites for the formation of blood cells necessary for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Because of their important functions, strong bones are essential to live a high quality of life.

There are 206 bones making up the framework of the human body, and like any other building structure, your body needs to have a strong foundation to be functional and efficient. Once these dense connective tissues weaken, the body becomes vulnerable to various diseases and disorders, which can severely debilitate your way of life in so many ways.  The importance of strong bones and the tips to have healthy bones are discussed in the succeeding to sections to help you and your family live fuller and healthier lives.

Bone Problems

In younger individuals, breaking a bone may not be so easy. Because of the bone’s superb ability to withstand great amounts of pressure, a tremendous amount of force is needed to break it. However, the same thing cannot be said of the older adults. Bones that used to withstand the falls and blows are now easily  fractured with minimal trauma. In older adults, growing a bone back is not as easy as it used be either. Bone growth may be slower, which increases the risk for bone deformities and recurrent fractures during aging.

Limited mobility and increased physical dependence are not far behind if your bones are not adequately nourished. A myriad of physical and psychological problems can arise from these seemingly benign conditions. Decreased mobility may lead to loss of jobs, financial crises, altered familial roles, decreased self-esteem and depression.

Of particular interest is the occurrence of osteoporosis with aging. Osteoporosis is mainly characterized by porous and brittle bones, which lead to greater susceptibility to fractures involving the spine, hips and wrists, bone deformities and postural changes. Accumulated effects can cause disruptions on how you breathe and digest food, consequently increasing your risk for pulmonary diseases and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Tips on saving up for the peak bone mass

After your growth plates close, your bones continue store up the much needed tissues and nutrients until they reach the peak bone mass, or the maximum strength and density of the bone. The peak is usually reached between 30 and 35 years of age. Your risk of osteoporosis and its milder form, osteopenia, largely depend on how much your bones saved up before reaching the peak bone mass.

In order to maintain strong bones even during your older years, you must be able to obtain as much bone mass before the peak is reached and conserve a lot after the peak is reached. To achieve this goal, follow these tips and guidelines and make them a part of your daily routine.

Diet and lifestyle modification

Eating the right foods and lifestyle modification are essential to develop stronger bones. These two strategies work together to attain good bone health until the advancing years.

Your bones store 99% of calcium in the body. Sufficient amounts of calcium must be supplied daily to maintain bone mineralization, which is the main determinant of bone strength. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends adults to consume 1000 to 1200 mg of calcium daily. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take between 1000 and 13000 mg daily. Natural sources of calcium are preferred over its supplements because aside from the mineral, food sources contain other nutrients are essential for overall good health. Milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, fatty fish, oranges, tofu and broccoli are good sources of calcium. Foods high in oxalate, phylate sodium, protein and caffeine must be limited as they interfere with calcium absorption. To ensure adequate absorption of calcium, limit your intake of nut products, spinach, potatoes, oranges and asparagus.

You must also check your daily supply of vitamin D. Vitamin D maximizes intestinal absorption of calcium. Although vitamin D is also obtained from food sources like milk, salmon, shrimp, cod and egg, vitamin D is best acquired from sunlight. Sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, when sun is the brightest, generates the most reactions to synthesize vitamin D. Sunscreens are not applied during the exposure. Skin irritation and damage caused by the UV rays may be your concern; however, research showed that sun exposure during these times 15 to 20 minutes, twice a week is safe and does not cause cancer.

To prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis, it is suggested to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 2 to 3 cups of cola, coffee and tea a day.  These beverages decrease the bone’s mineral density and may speed up the process of osteoporosis. Energy drinks, chocolates, legumes, tea and grapefruit should be avoided as well.

Supplements, Medications and Exercise

Supplements

The type and amount of supplements you should take depend on how much nutrients you are getting from your dietary intake. If you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D from your diet, supplements may not be necessary.

If you are deficient in calcium, you may take calcium carbonate in divided doses at least 30 minutes before meals. If you have reached the peak bone mass you may take calcitonin with calcium and vitamin D to prevent the reduction of the bone density. Calcitonin is usually administered through a nasal spray. It is best to take it in the evening to minimize the side effects.


Medications

Around the time of menopause, the estrogen levels significantly decrease, resulting in impaired calcium absorption. Inadequate calcium supply stimulates the removal of calcium stored in bones, causing fragile and brittle bones.

Estrogen replacement therapy is usually prescribed to menopausal women not to rebuild bones or to increase the bone mass but to slow down the reduction of the bone mass. Raloxifene (Evista) is a selective estrogen receptor modulator or SERM usually prescribed to mimic the effects of estrogen, which prevents the reduction of the bone density.

Exercise

Maintaining a regular exercise regimen, consisting of weight bearing exercises, resistance and strengthening exercises and postural, balance and coordination exercises can help increase your peak bone mass by increasing its density and bone strength. Exercising also increases the supply of the much needed nutrients and oxygen to bone tissues.

Bone is a living tissue that adapts well to the amount of stress placed against it. It increases its strength according to the amount that is loaded. High-impact aerobic exercises 20 to 30 minutes per session, 3 to 4 times a week is recommended to increase your bone mass.

The following exercises are recommended to ensure good bone health

1.    Weight bearing exercises: push-ups, walking, jogging, hiking, stair climbing, step aerobics

2.    Resistance and strengthening exercises: overhead press, biceps curls, side lunges, squats, bridging,  back and shoulder stretches, leg lifts, exercises that involve weight lifting and elastic bands

3.    Postural, balance and coordination exercises: sitting exercises, toe stands, heel-to-toe walking, single leg balance, wall slide posture, Yoga, Tai Chi and dancing.

When bones are concerned, it is always best to start young and right. Your bone health in the future greatly depends on how much you are saving up or conserving your bone mass.

To enjoy the goodness of life, strong bones are a must. Tips to have healthy bones are given to help you get the most of what life has to offer. It is now in your hands to live better and healthier.

  • Gueldner, S., Burke. K & Smiciklas – Wright, H. (2000). Preventing and managing osteoporosis. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, Inc
  • Gueldner, S., Grabo, T., Newman, E. & Cooper, D. (2008). Osteoporosis: clinical guidelines for prevention, diagnosis and management. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, Inc
  • Lemone, P. & Burke, K. (2004). Medical – Surgical Nursing Critical Thinking in Client Care (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall
  • Lin J. & Lane, J. (2009). Osteoporosis. Retrieved on July 4, 2010 from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1267595-diagnosis
  • National Osteoporosis Foundation (2008). Prevention: Calcium. Retrieved July 4, 2008 from http://www.nof.org/prevention/calcium2.htm

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