Nutritional bone health: calcium, vitamin D, and other strategies to prevent osteoporosis.
Strong bones are essential for good health, and good nutrition is essential for strong bones. Find out what you need to protect your bones for the next few years.
Nutrition strongly influences bone health in our lives. For example, what our mothers ate during pregnancy can affect the bone mass of our ultimate adult.
As children, our bones exploded almost instantly. If we break something, there’s no problem – we’re working like plastic people. (this is great. Consider the first time we might face monkey bars.
Around 18 or 19 years old, we’ve reached around 95% of our peak bone mass. We can continue to build some bones in our 20s.
But by 30, we no longer make bone deposits. Then the withdrawal begins.
This led to some bad news and some good news.
Bad news: you lose bone density
After age 40, most people in the United States lose about 0.5 percent of their bone mass per year. Chronic bone loss leads to reduced bone mineral density and deterioration of bone tissue – known as osteoporosis.
It gets worse.
Fractures of osteoporosis are more common than heart disease, stroke and breast cancer. At least a third of women and a fifth of men suffer a bone fracture in their lifetime.
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent thief” because the disease has no symptoms.
Many old people do not know that they have bone weakness until they fall. During menopause, when protective hormone levels drop, women often lose bone mass.
If you are an old man, fracture, you will soon die.
The good news is that you’re not doomed to fail
Fortunately, as an adult, you can do a lot to protect and even strengthen your bones.
What is a bone?
Bones may look hard and unchangeable. They don’t seem to do anything.
But like any part of the body, they are dynamic, living tissue. They constantly decompose and reinvent themselves. In fact, you get a new bone every 10 years.
And bones are not just big minerals. Most bone structures are actually proteins and contain connective tissue (such as endothelial or periosteal), nerve and vascular networks, and of course bone marrow in the center.
Therefore, good nutrition is not only about supporting bone mineralization – it helps the whole bone complex to stay healthy.
When a bone cell senses any strain (for example, when running with a foot on the road or under the weight of a barbell), the body signals to increase bone formation.
Good nutrition, good remodeling
If we get good nutrition, then our bones will be transformed healthily.
Imagine a well-trained construction team decorating the house with high-quality materials.
Microtrauma – minute cracks and damage – tell bone to adapt, repair and eventually strengthen. The old bones were removed, and the new bones were put down. Everything is fine.
If we don’t get good nutrition, then our bones won’t recover.
Imagine the same construction crew – but this time, their material is cheap and the quality is poor. They don’t have what they need. Maybe they cut a few corners to get the job done.
The resulting structure is shoddy. The new bone is not down. As time went on, the old bones became weaker and weaker.
Well nourished bones
At this point, you may want to know what you can eat – or stop eating – to ensure the healthiest bones.
Fortunately, this is easy. Eat a balanced diet of whole foods. Combine it with regular exercise (signal that your bones are being altered). Your bones will support you in the coming years.
Here are some specific nutrients that are involved in bone health.
Bones contain about 99 percent of human calcium, and we need calcium to build bones. That’s why health professionals often tell us to make sure we get enough calcium.
Most people need between 600 and 1,200 mg of dietary calcium per day. Teenagers may need the most support for their growth.
Here are some things about calcium:
Does your body know you should use calcium? While calcium is important, it is not enough to build strong bones on your own. It requires hormone signals (such as enough vitamin D) and mechanical signals (such as impact and load) to tell it where to go.
Can your body absorb this form of calcium? We can eat a lot, but our bodies must be able to use calcium.
Is calcium balanced with other nutrients? Recent evidence suggests that we supplement more than 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium without benefits – excessive calcium supplementation may actually be harmful.
Are you eating other foods, or taking other medications that might interfere with the absorption of calcium?