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We got a wonderful reader request asking us to talk about bone health. Since bone health is such an important topic, I decided to turn this blog post over to my husband who knows much more about the subject. Although it sounds like this post is just for older women, it is actually something that all of us at any age need to be aware of.  We love getting reader requests! Please email us with any topics you would like to read about at threehealthymommas@gmail.com

Enjoy!

-Jaeme

I know what you are thinking…bone health…Isn’t that just something older women have to deal with?

While it is true that bone loss is something that happens at a faster pace for women (due to hormonal changes), it is by no means something that only women need to worry about! Maintaining healthy bones is an extremely important aspect of health and longevity that begins very early on in life. We acquire up to 90% of our maximum bone density by age 18 in girls and by age 20 in boys.

Bone Density and Longevity“Bone mineral density is a significant predictor of death from all causes, including cardiovascular.” 

“Bone mineral density is a significant predictor of death from all causes, including cardiovascular.”

So why does this “maximum bone density” matter to me?

Well, unfortunately, bone loss begins immediately after we reach our peak bone mass, which happens sometime between age 20-30. What this really means is that if we neglected good health while we, or our kids, are growing then we are really short changing our bones and will deplete our bone density at an earlier age than if we had ensure more optimal bone health during our growing years. But don’t start panicking if you weren’t the healthiest of kiddos, there are measures we can take to help maintain the bone strength we have and to slow down the rate of loss.

Aspects of healthy bone developmentNutrition: good nutrition from infancy through adolescence, with particular attention to adequate daily intake of calcium and vitamin D, is a key component in attainment of maximum peak bone mass.

  • Children should focus on consuming calcium rich or vitamin D fortified foods to achieve this goal.
  • Routine supplementation of calcium and vitamin D is not necessary for those consuming a varied diet.
  • For those unable to achieve adequate dietary intake, supplementation is an option.

Physical Activity: clinical research has demonstrated the beneficial effects of exercise on bone accumulation during growth, with particular benefit from high impact exercise.

Lifestyle Modification: cigarette smoking and excess alcohol intake have been associated with a decreased bone mass density and reduced thickness.

Ok, so I’m already past my prime so to speak, what should I do now?

In the simplest of explanations, the best way to maintain bone health and to prevent further bone loss is to be healthy through proper nutrition and exercise. But I am very aware that “being healthy” is not necessarily simple or easy! There are some additional guidelines as well from the Surgeon’s General, on maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis.  These guidelines are referred to as the “pyramid approach.”

So what is the Pyramid Approach?

The “pyramid approach” is simply just a way to describe what measures should be taken in preventing bone loss. The idea being that those things at the base of the pyramid (tier one), are first line approaches and as needed we work our way up the pyramid trying other approaches in managing bone loss. As you can see the first thing we always emphasize are lifestyle changes such as nutrition and exercise. For the maintenance of bone health it is recommended to exercise 30 minutes a day on most, if not all days. It is also recommended to eat diets that are high in calcium and vitamin D, as well as daily supplements for post-menopausal women  in order to achieve a total of 800 international units of vitamin D daily and 1200 mg calcium daily.

Foods rich in Vitamin D & Calcium Vitamin D:

  • Milk, orange juice, or yogurt with vitamin D added
  • Cooked salmon or mackerel
  • Canned tuna fish
  • Cereals with vitamin D added
  • Cod liver oil

Calcium:

  • Milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, and other dairy foods
  • Green vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, and broccoli
  • Certain nuts and breads
  • Foods that have calcium added to them, such as juices, cereals, and soy products

As you can see bone health is not just something women should worry about it, it is an important aspect of overall health that we should all be concerned with. Most importantly I hope that this emphasizes another aspect of maintaining good overall health through exercise and nutrition!

Sources:

  1. E Michael Lewiecki, MD. (2014, Jan 9). Prevention of osteoporosis. UpToDate.com. Retrieved February 16, 2014, from http://www.uptodate.com.ezpminer.urmc.rochester.edu/contents/prevention-of-osteoporosis?source=search_result&search=bone+density&selectedTitle=10~150
  2. Mussolino ME. (2003, Nov 12). Bone mineral density and mortality in women and men. PubMed.gov. Retrieved February 16,2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14599733
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