There’s no question — doing everything you can to support your bone health benefits your overall health and mobility. Your bones form the foundation of your body and allow you to move. They work in tandem with your ligaments, cartilage, tendons, muscles, and connective tissue to form your musculoskeletal system.
Dr. Struan Coleman and his dedicated team help patients by providing a wide range of orthopedic services, including hamstring repair, rotator cuff surgery, knee arthroscopy, and more. His expertise is sought after not only due to his stellar education and extensive experience, but also because he’s relied upon by pro athletes with complex conditions.
Your bones perform incredible and varied jobs:
You may have thought that your bones primarily were the “hardware” that your body is sculpted around, but they do so much more. They also form your joints, which make your skeleton flexible and allow you to move in even more complicated ways, from twisting to jumping.
Your bones are living organs, and your body makes new bone tissue as old bone breaks down. Bone mass increases, thanks to the fact that your new bone production outstrips bone breakdown. This process happens much more quickly and efficiently when you’re younger.
You reach your peak bone mass when you’re about 30 years of age, but in the ensuing years, you begin to lose more bone mass than you acquire.
As we age, our bones suffer in various ways, and we notice changes that stem from degenerative issues. For example, the discs that act as cushions between your vertebrae (the bones in your spine) thin and lose fluid, and problems arise such as bone spurs, bumpy bits of extra bone that form on the end of a bone, often on a joint.
For women, menopause, with its decreased estrogen production, accelerates mineral and calcium loss, and your bones become more brittle. This leads to osteoporosis and its precursor, osteopenia. Men suffer a loss of bone density too, from age-related testosterone loss.
There’s good news, though. You can do a lot to support your bone health. Dr. Coleman often talks to patients about lifestyle habits they can adopt or continue to keep their bones strong:
Calcium is critical to bone health. If you’re age 19-50, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and 1,200 milligrams per day for women 51 and older and men 71 and older.
Foods that are rich in calcium include milk, cheese, and other dairy foods, kale, broccoli, salmon with bones, almonds, and soy products. Calcium supplements can also play a role in ensuring you get enough each day.
It’s extremely important to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Without it, you can’t absorb calcium. The RDA that’s recommended for adults aged 19 to 70 is 600 international units (IUs) per day, and 800 IUs per day for adults 71 and older.
Good sources of vitamin D are eggs, oily fish, and mushrooms, and milk and cereals are often fortified with vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from sun exposure, but that comes with its own dangers, so it’s best to talk with your doctor about whether you’re getting enough, and if a supplement would help.
Weight-bearing exercise strengthens your bones and puts the brakes on bone loss. Running, walking, and using the stair climber at the gym all count. Even something fun like gardening is considered weight-bearing.
We’ve all heard many warnings about how smoking hurts us, and they’re all true. Chalk smoking up as an activity that’s also harmful to bone health. Don’t start, and quit if you do smoke.
Alcohol isn’t a friend to your bones because it suppresses bone remodeling. Men should aim for no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women shouldn’t have more than one.
Avoiding a fall in the first place obviously lowers your risk for broken bones, so take steps to “fall proof” your home, like removing throw rugs, ensuring all spaces are well-lit, putting a non-skid mat in your bathtub, and making sure every stairway has securely fastened handrails.
Have a conversation with your primary care physician and Dr. Coleman about what you can do to care for your bones.
Call our West Side, Locust Valley, or Philadelphia office to schedule an appointment, or reach out to us through our website.