Osteoporosis is one of the most widespread bone conditions around the world. This health condition which makes your bones become fragile and weak, affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, USA, and Japan. According to The International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.
Here at Smalljoys, we’re sure that there are things you can try in your 20s and 30s to help ensure your bones stay healthy and flexible through your 60s. Just make sure you know all of your existing conditions and medications, and consult with your doctor beforehand.
And be sure to read to the end of the article, we’ve prepared an important bonus for you!
10. Make sure you get enough calcium.
If you ask a random person how to protect your bones, they most likely will mention calcium in their answer. Our bones do contain 99.5% of the total calcium in our body, so to keep osteoporosis at bay, the first thing to do is to make sure you consume enough of this nutrient.
Recommendation: According to The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), the amount of calcium you need (both from food and supplements) depends on your gender and age.
- Women: age 50 and younger need 1,000 mg daily, age 51 and older need 1,200 mg daily.
- Men: age 70 and younger need 1,000 mg daily, age 71 and older need 1,200 mg daily.
Sources of calcium: sardines and canned salmon, soybeans and tofu, almonds, cheese, milk, spinach, and orange juice.
9. Don’t forget about vitamin D.
Vitamin D is one of the most important micronutrients in our bodies. It’s also called the sunshine vitamin as it’s produced in your body when you’re exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is involved in numerous processes, including brain function. It’s also essential for healthy bones and teeth simply because it helps to absorb calcium.
Even if you get enough calcium but not enough vitamin D, you are still at risk of getting osteoporosis and osteomalacia (softening of the bones).
Recommendation: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 600 IUs (15 mcg) daily for both men and women from ages 1 to 70, including periods of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and 800 IUs (20 mcg) for older people.
Sources of vitamin D: fatty fish like tuna and salmon, dairy products, cereals, beef liver, cheese, and eggs.
8. Keep your normal weight.
A strict diet may help you lose a couple of extra pounds, but it’s not a healthy way to deal with them, and more importantly, losing weight — especially during the early postmenopausal period — puts your bones at risk of low bone mass and increased bone loss. On the other hand, obesity is also a risk factor contributing to bone fractures and breaks.
Recommendation: The best option here is to maintain your regular weight. Never go on a crash diet or a low-calorie diet, and try not to put on too much weight, especially in short periods of time. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and opt for a well-balanced diet plan while keeping physically active.
7. Exercise your bones.
After age 30, our bodies start to gradually lose their bone mass. To help your bones stay healthy for as long as possible you need to keep them in shape with physical activity because our bones need exercise just like our muscles do.
Recommendation: The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends weight-bearing types of exercise like weight training, brisk walking, jogging, and even dancing. Consult your doctor before starting any program and remember to listen to your body.
6. Quit smoking.
Recent studies show that nicotine has a direct negative impact on bone density. Also, smoking cigarettes delay skeletal healing by as much as 60% after a fracture or break. If you’re a smoker, the first thing (and the best thing) you can do is to try to quit. Maintaining healthy and strong bones is a great motivation to do so, isn’t it?
Recommendation: If you can’t do it immediately (and some studies suggest you shouldn’t), start with reducing the amount of nicotine you get every day until you feel like quitting for good. Not only will your bones thank you, but your entire body will benefit from it.
5. Watch your caffeine intake.
If you, just like millions of people worldwide, can’t imagine your morning without a cup of coffee, you must know that there is such a thing as too much caffeine, especially for your bones. Studies suggest that caffeine (when taken in large amounts) is responsible for reduced bone mass and increased fractures because it has negative effects on calcium absorption.
Recommendation: Doctors assure us that it’s safe for an average adult to have up to 400 mg of caffeine (4 cups of brewed coffee) a day. So if you have 4 or less, there’s nothing to worry about. If you drink more than that, your bones might suffer from it.
4. Your bones need Omega-3.
Combined with moderate physical activity, Omega-3 fatty acids have a significant effect on bone mineral density. They boost the production of bone-forming cells called osteoblasts. Plus, polyunsaturated fatty acids can help reduce joint pain from osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Recommendation: According to the National Institute of Health, an average adult (age 18+) needs 1.6 g (male) and 1.1 g (female) of Omega-3 per day.
Sources of Omega-3: fatty fish like mackerel, seafood, walnuts, chia seeds, etc.
3. Consider taking a collagen supplement.
Did you know that your organic bone mass is 90% collagen? As you age, in addition to the loss of bone density, the collagen level in your body reduces dramatically, which may eventually lead to brittle bones and fractures.
Recommendation: To get collagen naturally, include fish, bone broth, and bell peppers in your diet plan. But since it’s very hard to get the required amount of collagen from these products, you may want to try the supplements and follow the directions on how much to take. Before trying the supplement, consult your doctor.
Sources of collagen: bone broth, gelatin, bell peppers, citrus fruits, eggs, pumpkin seeds, etc.
2. Consume enough protein.
Numerous studies have shown that protein intake is directly associated with a higher index of bone density. In fact, calcium and protein work together to maintain your bone health.
Recommendation: According to Harvard Health, the recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. But before going on a high-protein diet, consult your doctor because there’s such a thing as too much calcium, which can lead to serious health problems.
Sources of protein: seafood, white-meat poultry, milk, cheese, eggs, beans, etc.
1. Limit your salt intake.
Japanese scientists state that excessive sodium intake puts your bone health at risk. Most of us get sodium from regular table salt, which is bad because salt causes a loss of calcium which can eventually lead to weak, brittle bones. So in order to prevent osteoporosis, try to reconsider your diet — and your sodium intake in particular.
Recommendation: The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
Now that you know how to help your body keep your bones stronger for longer, we thought it would be useful to know that there are some factors that put you at higher risk and you can’t do anything about them, unfortunately.
- Gender: Studies prove that women (age 50+) have 4 times a higher rate of osteoporosis than men of the same age.
- Age: We start to lose bone mass after we turn 30. Although it’s an ongoing process that takes time, it’s probably the best time to finally adopt a healthy lifestyle and realize the importance of regular physical activity.
- Family history: Unfortunately, if either of your parents has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it means you also have a genetic disposition to get the disease.
- Ethnicity: Asian and Caucasian women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis than women of other ethnic backgrounds.
If you’re in any of these risk groups, you’d better take your bone health even more seriously!!
Don’t postpone your health, and even if you’re still in your 20s, start looking out for your bones today!
Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov