Never underestimate the importance of strong bones. Not only do they help to keep your body strong and mobile, but they protect your organs and store healthy calcium too. Building strong bones is something that’s vital during childhood, but it’s important to look after your bones as you get older too. Discover more about the importance of strong bones and some of the things you can do to keep your bones healthy.
Why strong bones are important
Bones continue to change as we age and the body builds new bone while older bone breaks down. Younger people experience faster bone growth rate than older people, something that peaks when you turn 30 years old.
Osteoporosis occurs in people who have achieved a lower bone mass by the peak period, and lose their bone mass quicker. If you achieve a high bone mass by the age of 30, you’ll have more bone in reserve to hopefully prevent osteoporosis.
Improving your bone health
There are several things that you can do to improve your bone health, including:
Ensuring your diet contains enough calcium
Calcium is an important mineral for healthy bones, and is contained in many foods – particularly dairy. Adults should consume 700mg of calcium a day, which you should be able to get from your a balanced daily diet.
Physical activity keeps your bones strong, helping to prevent osteoporosis and improve muscle structure to support your bones. It’s recommended that you complete 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which can involve walking, swimming, cycling and other types of aerobic exercise. In addition to this, you should focus on improving your strength twice a week or more, which can include weight training, heavy housework such as gardening or doing yoga or pilates. Try not to sit down for too long during the day and make sure that you get up for a short walk around every hour or so.
Boosting your vitamin D intake
Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to absorb calcium effectively. While most people absorb vitamin D through the sun, this becomes more difficult during colder months. Try to get outside as much as possible, use sun protection, and eat foods that are rich in vitamin D such as fatty fish and eggs to ensure that your body gets what it needs.
Protein is important for your diet for many reasons, but a low protein intake is associated with low calcium absorption. Protein is found in many sources, including lean meats, eggs and other dairy, seafood, brans and pulses. Protein can help you to stay lean, and provides a lot of fuel for your body, so it’s important to eat a diet rich in protein every day.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for avoiding all sorts of health problems. While being overweight comes with its own set of issues, being underweight can also cause problems for your bone health. Eating too few calories can cause bone loss, leaving you more prone to osteoporosis.
What to do if you’re concerned about your bone health
If you’re worried about your bone health, or you’d like further advice on how to improve it, consult your doctor for more information. Meanwhile, if you break a bone, through suspected weak bones or through an accident or injury, then make sure you seek urgent medical care. This article has advice on where to go to get treatment, including when to visit urgent care centres or when to visit A&E.
Taking care of your bone health is essential for a healthy future. Take a look at the NHS Choices’ guide to exercises for strong bones to help you improve your bone health.