By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
Our bones are very important because they support, stay upright, and allow us to move. They protect our brain, heart, and other delicate internal organs from injury. They provide support for your muscles and supply key minerals like calcium and phosphorus when the body needs them.
However, the older you get, the harder it is to maintain bone strength because the bone loses its density. Bone density loss can lead to a range of issues, including osteoporosis, fractures, and even life-threatening falls. How to keep our bones strong? Fortunately, many ways can help you build strong bones through what you eat and lifestyle habits. It’s never too late to start!
Here are natural ways to build strong bones for life:
- Eat high Calcium Foods
Calcium is the most important mineral to maintain strong bones. The bones act as a storage bank for calcium. The average calcium needed for all children ages 9-18 needs high calcium;1300mg, all adults under age 50 average is 1000mg, while adults aged 51 and older need 1,200 mg of calcium per day. The most common people known are milk as a source of calcium. Other dairy products such as yoghurt, cottage cheese, and fish are great for adding calcium.
- Get Plenty of Vitamin D and Vitamin K
Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps bones absorb calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. The most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. There are 2 natural ways to get vitamin D; natural sunlight and food. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You also can get it through certain foods such as mackerel, salmon and tuna, egg yolks.
Increase your intake of vegetables- specifically leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach, and bok choy. These vegetables also contain magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K that contribute to overall health. Prunes and plums are also known to increase bone density.
- Include Foods High in Magnesium and Phosphorus.
Magnesium helps you absorb and retain calcium in the bones. Meanwhile, phosphorus is a key component of bones- roughly 85 per cent of the phosphorus in your body can be found in your bones and teeth. Fruits, vegetables and grains provide other minerals crucial to bone health such as magnesium and phosphorus. You can take walnuts, peanuts and pecans, especially almonds are a good source of magnesium and phosphorus too. Avocados, edamame, oatmeal are also good for your diet mixed food.
- Perform Strength Training and Weight-Bearing Exercise
Maintaining an active lifestyle that includes regular exercise may be the most important thing that you can do to keep bones healthy and strong. Specifically, activities that require muscle strength such as lifting weight can improve muscle mass and support bone health. Other regular weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing or step aerobics can protect your bones. Any activities that go against gravity are also helpful. Just like stomping and jumping, the force of hitting the ground during these weight-bearing exercises stimulates the bones, resulting in increased density. As we get older, balance training is also important to prevent falls.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
People should keep a healthy weight. People who are underweight have a higher risk of developing bone disease, while excess body weight puts additional stress on the bones. One research study found repeatedly losing and regaining weight may lead to significant bone loss over a person’s lifetime. Maintaining a stable healthy weight is your best when it comes to protecting your bone health.
Bone health is important at all stages of life. Fortunately, there are many nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help build and maintain strong bones. If you are concerned about your bone health, or your risk factors for osteoporosis, consult with us.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumour & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.