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Your Bones Will Thank You
Your bones are alive—they are living tissue. When we are young and growing, our bodies break down the old bone and replace it with new bone. Around age 30, our bone mass stops increasing and more bone breaks down than is being replaced. Our goal for bone health should be to keep as much bone as possible for the rest of our lives. We can take action now to prevent bone loss and watch for warning signs of a more serious condition.
For women, bone loss speeds up in the years after menopause, then it slows again, but still progresses. In men, bone loss happens slowly. The gender bone loss rates eventually even out, and by age 65, most men and women are losing bone at the same pace.
The word "osteoporosis" literally means "porous bone." If bone loss increases at a high rate, you may be developing osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones to the state where they are fragile and break with little trauma to the body. Those with osteoporosis more often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist; however, any bone is susceptible.
Osteoporosis is sometimes called a “silent” disease because it develops without symptoms and over a long period of time. Until a fall or strain causes a broken bone, people may not know they have osteoporosis. These breaks can lead to long-term recovery and sudden disabilities.
A bone density test can find out your level of bone health. Since osteoporosis is difficult to diagnose until a bone breaks, your doctor may suggest a type of bone density test called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry test (DXA), if you feel you are at risk. The DXA test can provide information to help assess your risk for broken bones, and it may help you and your doctor develop a plan to keep your bones from further damage.
Keep Bones Strong
Bone fractures and bone loss are preventable. We can help our bodies maintain healthy bone and reduce bone loss by taking some steps now. No matter what your age, bone health is important, and we can start today with awareness and action to help build a stronger support system.
- Eat Protein. Seniors tend to eat less protein than is recommended. To maintain healthy bones, 80 grams a day is recommended. Foods that are good protein sources include eggs, meat, fish, and poultry.
- Exercise. Your bones, joints, and muscles will be stronger when you are physically active. Weight-bearing exercises, performed three times a week, can help with bone health. Walking, light weightlifting, playing tennis, and dancing are examples of weight-bearing exercises. Try some strengthening and balance exercises too, like yoga or water aerobics. They may help you avoid falls, which could cause a broken bone. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise or diet regimens.
- Vitamin C. A recent study for the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research showed that seniors with higher intakes of vitamin C lowered their risk of fractures by 50 percent.
- Calcium. At any age, calcium is important for bone health and strength. Women over age 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium every day. Men need 1,000 mg between ages 51 and 70 and 1,200 mg after age 70. Calcium-rich foods are the best source. Try low-fat dairy foods, fish (such as salmon), and some green leafy vegetables. Check the labels on items like fruit juices, breads, and cereals to find those with calcium added.
- Vitamin D. Did you know your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium? Our bodies usually produce enough vitamin D if we are in the sun without sunscreen for 10 to 15 minutes twice a week. Vitamin D is also found in eggs, fatty fish, and vitamin D-fortified milk. If you think you are not getting enough vitamin D, check with your doctor.
Maintaining strong bones is essential as we age. It’s never too late to start improving bone health. There are many simple steps we can take now to strengthen our bones and fight bone loss. At Comfort Keepers® we specialize in helping our clients stay healthy and active. We work with you to create a custom plan that fits your lifestyle, activity level, and interests. Contact us today to learn more about how we help support happy, healthy senior lives.
“Facts and Statistics.” International Osteoporosis Foundation: Data and Publications. Web. 2015.
Lasalandra, Michael. “Seniors Can Prevent Bone Loss, Fractures.” Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Web. 2011.
“What is Osteoporosis?” NIH Senior Health: The Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 2015.