Bone Health

A person does not have to be 40 plus down with a fracture to start becoming aware of the importance of bone health.

Healthy bones are a key to an independent lifestyle, especially during old age. This does not mean that bone health problems do not affect the young. They do, and in most cases this is because of diet and lifestyle related reasons.

Bone care starts at an early age and for a good reason too.

Why do we need to take calcium regularly?

The body continually removes and replaces small amounts of calcium from the bones. If your body removes more calcium than it replaces, the bones will become weaker and have a greater chance of breaking. By getting lots of calcium when you’re young, you can make sure your body doesn’t have to take too much from your bones.

Bones have their own “calcium bank account,” so depositing as much calcium as possible during the tween and teen years will help a person reach your peak bone mass. After age 18 the account closes – so one can’t add any more calcium to your bones. You can only maintain what is already stored to help your bones stay healthy.

Why is it important to being concerned about calcium intake and bone health at a very young age?

Young people in this age group have calcium needs that they can’t make up for later in life. In the years of peak skeletal growth, teenagers build more than 25 percent of adult bone. By the time teens finish their growth spurts around age 17, 90 percent of their adult bone mass is established.

Do bone health problem only affect women?

Bone health related problems affect both men and women though women are more susceptible since they have less bone mass than men. And usually, the amount of and the quantity of calcium in their diet is also low.

What is peak bone mass?

Peak bone mass refers to the genetic potential for bone density. By the age of 20, the average woman has acquired most of her skeletal mass. A large decline in bone mass occurs in older adults, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. For women this occurs around the time of menopause.

Why is peak bone mass important?

It is important for young girls to reach their peak bone mass in order to maintain bone health throughout life. A person with high bone mass as a young adult will be more likely to have a higher bone mass later in life. Inadequate calcium consumption and physical activity early on could result in a failure to achieve peak bone mass in adulthood.

Are only people over 40 susceptible to bone health problems?

Though people over 40 are more susceptible to bone health related issues, girls and young women who exercise rigorously or diet/eat less to lose weight are at risk. People of all ages who spend considerable time at gym should also be on alert.

What are the signs that one should look for in young girls and women to become alert to the possibility to bone loss?

If a young girl or woman has missed or has irregular menstrual periods, is extremely thin or displays "unhealthy-looking" thinness or has lost weight rapidly, she might be suffering from ‘bone loss’.

How can one build strong bones?

The task of building strong bones starts in preteens and teens. Kids should be given enough calcium and encouraged to undertake weight bearing physical activity as bones are growing their fastest during this time.

Regardless of age, calcium-rich foods should be an essential part of daily diet. Calcium is present in dairy products, almonds, spinach, broccoli, kale, oats and tofu . Food labels list calcium content, so it is easy to make smart choices.

What are the nutrients needed for good bone health?

A person should have adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium everyday as these vitamins and minerals are the most influential in building bones and teeth.

A person needs as much as 1300 miligrams of Calcium per day. This holds true for preteens, teenagers and adults.

Where can one get calcium and vitamin D?

Dairy products are the primary food sources of calcium. Choose low-fat milk, yogurt, cheeses, ice cream, or products made or served with these choices to fulfill your daily requirement. Three servings of dairy products per day should give you at least 900 mg (milligrams) of calcium. Green vegetables are another source. A cup of broccoli, for example, has about 136 mg of calcium. Sunlight is an important source of vitamin D, but when the sun is not shining, turn to dietary sources of vitamin D.

What are the various kinds of bone diseases can a person get.

While osteoporosis is the most common bone health related problem, there are others like bone cancer, Osteogenesis imperfect (which makes the bone brittle) and Paget's disease( makes the bone weak) one needs to be aware of.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis makes the bones weak and more likely to break. Osteoporosis or "porous bone" is a disease of the skeletal system characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Osteoporosis leads to an increase risk of bone fractures typically in the wrist, hip, and spine. A shortage of calcium, phosphorous and other minerals causes bones to weaken.

Does exercise help bone health?

Exercise is very important for bone health at every age. Exercise not only prevents osteoporosis, it treats it too. In addition to improving bone health, it also increases muscle strength, coordination, and balance, and leads to better overall health.

What is the best exercise to build bones?

The best exercise for bones is the weight-bearing kind, which forces an individual to work against gravity. Some examples of weight-bearing exercises include weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing. Examples of exercises that are not weight-bearing include swimming and bicycling. Although these activities help build and maintain strong muscles and have excellent cardiovascular benefits, they are not the best way to exercise your bones

How long does a person need to exercise?

While adults need to undertake moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day, children need to engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.