You’re never too young or too old to protect your bones
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Worldwide, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged over 50 will experience fractures due to Osteoporosis (1)
Osteoporosis is progressive bone loss that results in increased vulnerability to fractures. Our peak bone mass is at age 28 and starts to decline in our thirties so the sooner you start looking after your bones the better. Bone loss happens to everyone, but some people lose bone much faster than normal, putting them at greater risk of fracture. Women are particularly susceptible because of the rapid bone loss that occurs at menopause, due to the lack of protective oestrogen.
Although osteoporosis is thought of as a disease of old age, evidence suggests that prevention begins in youth. Building strong bones in early life can make you less vulnerable to osteoporosis in later life. It is estimated that a 10% increase of peak bone mass in children can reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures in adult life by 50% (2).
As with other organs, our bones need to be fuelled with key nutrients and energy.
Bones are living tissue, which means the cells, nerves, blood vessels and minerals that make up our bones are constantly renewing themselves. Throughout our lives, a process of bone-building and bone-breakdown is always taking place, and lifestyle factors like our diet, level of exercise and certain medications can disrupt this balance. It is this imbalance that causes bone loss as bone-breakdown overtakes the bone-building process.
Thankfully fractures can be prevented and there is plenty you can do to protect your bones with healthy lifestyle choices. Here are three starting points:
1. Weight bearing exercise
Physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are risk factors for developing osteoporotic fractures (3). Muscles and bones strengthen and stimulate the bone-building process when they are 'stressed'. This can be achieved with exercises such as walking, jogging, rebounding, aerobics, dancing and pilates. Weight bearing exercise is recommended three times a week for 45-60 minutes at a time. Additionally, muscle strengthening and balance exercises such as Tai chi can help prevent falls.
2. Bone-building nutrients
Calcium is an essential structural component of the skeleton, however other nutrients such as vitamin K2, Magnesium and Boron are also needed to help regulate calcium intake and bone formation. A healthy and balanced diet containing fruits, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, nuts and seeds provide key vitamins and minerals to provide the building blocks for bone (4). Optimum gut health is also necessary for sufficient absorption of important minerals.
Vitamin D is required to help your body absorb calcium and ensure correct renewal and mineralisation of bone. It also has a direct stimulatory effect on muscle tissue and thereby reduces the risk of falling (5). The best way to get vitamin D is to expose your skin to sunlight for around 20 minutes a day. The UK government recommends that everyone over the age of five should consider supplementing with 10µg of vitamin D per day from October to March.
There are various causes of osteoporosis that require different strategies for each individual. For more personalised support, please get in touch to book a free 15 minute call to explore how nutritional therapy can help you.