When we think of maintaining bone health as we get older, one topic is mentioned more than any other: Osteoporosis
And in terms of preventive measures, three things get regular mention:
• Vitamin D
The Mayo Clinic has this to say about osteoporosis:
Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone.
Bones become weak and brittle – so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture.
Medications, healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise can help prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones.
Some bad habits can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Examples include:
• Sedentary lifestyle.
• Excessive alcohol consumption.
• Tobacco use.
Good nutrition and regular exercise are essential for keeping your bones healthy throughout your life, in particular:
• Getting enough protein in your diet
• Maintaining an appropriate body weight (not too much OR too little)
• Getting enough calcium (they recommend at least 1200 mg (milligrams) per day, ideally from diet rather than supplements)
• Getting enough Vitamin D. (at least 800 international units (IU) a day for older people, through food or supplements. People without other sources of vitamin D and especially with limited sun exposure might need a supplement, eg. 600 IU per day from a multivitamin.
• Strength training exercise to help strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine.
• Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, help the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine.
According to the UK National Health Service, older adults should consume at least 700 mg of calcium each day.
You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Sources of calcium include: milk, cheese and other dairy foods, many green leafy vegetables, soy, tofu, nuts and bread.
If you take calcium supplements, don’t take more than 1,500mg a day, as this could be harmful.
What do I do?
Calcium: I take a multivitamin containing 200 mg, and I’ve recently also started taking a calcium tablet with 400 mg. (Just in case my going vegan means I’m missing out in my diet).
Vitamin D: My multivitamin has 10 micrograms (400 IU) to supplement my diet.
Exercise: I do several minutes daily on a cross trainer, that should help my arm bones, even though it’s non-impact, and won’t help my leg bones. For that, I take a 20-minute walk most days.
Mayo Clinic on Osteoporosis: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968
NHS on Calcium: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/calcium/
Link to my post on “Vitamins and Supplements”