Bone Suckers and Bone Builders

Did you know that every bone in your body is constantly changing?  Bones are made of cells that grow and die, just like every other tissue in your body, and every day, you lose some bone but then it's replaced.

When you're young (until your 20s), your bones are doing lots of growing and strengthening, so you tend to gain more bone mass than you lose. But around the age of 30, everyone's bones start to break down a bit more quickly, and new bone is replaced a bit more slowly.  

So if you're a women who is over the age of 30, you need to show your bones some love every day to help maintain them.  If you're a postmenopausal woman, you REALLY need to pour on the love, because the process of breaking down bone density really accelerates, and the process of forming new bone slows down considerably after menopause.

Osteopenia is the term for lower than normal bone mass, and it may indicate that you're headed for osteoporosis, which is full-blown thin and brittle bones.  It looks like this

Bone Suckers and Bone Builders|Craving Something Healthy
image WebMD

and it can really put a damper on your life, because if you trip or twist an ankle and fall, you can do some pretty serious damage that may never heal properly, can cause permanent pain, and may prevent you from getting around on your own.  Kind of a bummer.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the disease is responsible for two million broken bones and $19 billion in related costs every year. Because of our aging population, experts predict that by 2025, osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately three million fractures and $25.3 billion in costs each year.  

Luckily, there are some things you can (and definitely should) do to maintain your bone density, and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Move More 

Physical activity and strength training strengthens muscles, which in turn strengthens bones.  In addition, weight bearing activities like walking, jogging or any running or jumping sports actually help to make your bones more dense.  Try to get at least 30-40 minutes of exercise each day, including 3 days of strength training each week.

Limit Bone Sucking Foods  

Foods like chips, fast food, salty snacks, soda and alcohol can actually steal calcium from your bones, so try to scale them back as much as possible. Eating too much protein from animal foods can have the same effect, so it's a good practice to avoid super high-protein diets, and mix it up with plant proteins like tofu and beans.  

Drinking too much coffee and tea can also interfere with calcium absorption, so keep them under 3 cups each day. In addition, there are a few good-for-you foods like wheat bran, rhubarb, beat greens and spinach which can also interfere with calcium absorption, so be aware that if you eat these along with some dairy food for the calcium, OR your calcium supplement, you probably aren't getting the amount of calcium you think you are.

Load Up On Bone Building Foods:  

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, younger women need about 1000 mg of calcium, plus about 600 IU of vitamin D, and postmenopausal women should aim for about 1200 mg of calcium with about 1000 mg of vitamin D each day.   Vitamin D is important because it helps your body to absorb and use calcium.  

Most people are aware that dairy foods are good sources of calcium, and it's true - 3 good servings of dairy foods ( 1 cup of milk, or yogurt, or an ounce of cheese) each day will cover you. But there are lots of other high calcium food options out there too, so if you're vegan, lactose intolerant, or you just don't do dairy, don't worry - just choose a few of these plant-based calcium-rich bone-building foods from this list from Vega, or that link above, and your bones will thank you for years to come:

Bone Suckers and Bone Builders|Craving Something Healthy

What do you do to take care of your bones?

Eat well!

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