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Your bones are your foundation, but if you’re like most people, you probably take your bones for granted. Even people as young as 25 years old can begin to lose their bone density.
Here are eight solid ways to strengthen your bones and maintain your bone density throughout your adult life.
This is a great first step for anyone wanting to check up on their bones. Your doctor can take a snapshot of your skeleton using a DXA X-ray to measure your bone mineral density. This procedure is highly recommended for women who’ve gone through menopause and anyone taking medication that affects bone matter. But no matter who you are, it never hurts to check. If your bones look great, you can rest easy. And if they don’t look great, you can make some positive changes now instead of later.
Your bones need building materials to stay strong, and what better to depend on than the most abundant mineral in the human body? Getting your daily dose of calcium is the very best way to build your bones. And the best way to score calcium is by eating calcium-rich foods: low-fat dairy products, collard greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, sardines, white beans, edamame, and fortified tofu. How much calcium you need will depend on your age, weight, gender, and activity level, so consult your doctor if you’re unsure.
Good protein in the body does much more than bulking up your muscles. It also supports your bones and joints, increases bone minerals, and reduces the risk of fractures. So chow down on some high-quality proteins today. Lean meats, eggs, salmon, soy, beans, and legumes are all great health-conscious choices.
We’ve all heard this one before, but you may not know that smoking has very negative effects on your bone health. Several studies have found that smokers have lower bone density than average adults and a much higher risk of bone breaks. Smoking is also known to induce early menopause in women, which also increases the risk of bone loss. So if you’re a smoker, quit now! Your entire body will thank you.
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When you’re choosing what to gulp down, there are healthy choices for your bones and unhealthy choices. Calcium-fortified drinks like fruit juices, almond milk, and soymilk are all great choices. Carbonated soda and alcohol are not. Although soda has not been linked specifically to bone loss, refined sugar has been shown to negatively affect bone health. So if you’re trying to maintain bone density, minimize your intake of sugary sodas and alcoholic beverages to keep your bones healthy.
Regular exercise is a huge factor in bone health. Active bones get stronger the same way muscles do, so build your bones by exercising frequently, especially weight-bearing exercise. Some good bone-strengthening activities include brisk walking, dancing, aerobics, jumping, and weight lifting. Try a variety of exercises to see what you like best.
Vitamin D is another great nutrient for promoting bone growth since it helps your bones absorb calcium more easily. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when your skin is exposed to the sun, but depending on where you live and your skin pigmentation, you might be in need of a vitamin D boost. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, fatty fish, yogurt, and fortified cereal and milk.
If your bones still need a little TLC, ask your doctor about taking a multivitamin. Adding a good supplement to your diet is a great idea for every part of your body, not just your bones.