Maintaining good bone health is easier than we think. Just wondering how diet, physical activity and other lifestyle factors are important for bone health? Bones play many roles in the body – such as providing structure to the body, protecting organs, supporting muscles, and storing calcium. Although it is best to maintain healthy and strong bones during childhood and adolescence, you can take steps to protect bone health throughout adulthood as well.

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  1. Why Is Bone Health Important?
  2. What Affects Bone Health?
  3. Tips To Keep Bones Healthy
  4. Summary

Our bones are constantly changing – new bone is formed and old bone is broken down. When young, the body breaks down old bones at a lower rate and forms new bones at a higher rate and the bone mass increases. Most people reach their highest bone mass around age 30. After that, bone remodeling continues, but as new bones are formed even as old bones lose mass. How likely you are to get osteoporosis – a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle – depends on how much bone mass you gain by the time you reach age 30. The greater the bone mass, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.

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Many factors can affect bone health. For example:

  • Calcium content in diet – A diet low in calcium reduces bone density, causes bones to break down quickly and increases the risk of fractures.
  • Physical activity – People who are not physically active have a higher risk of osteoporosis.
  • Tobacco and alcohol consumption – Research shows that tobacco consumption weakens bones. Similarly, regularly drinking more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or two alcoholic drinks a day for men may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Gender – Women are more at risk for osteoporosis, because women have less bone tissue than men.
  • Size – If you are extremely thin or have a small body, you are at greater risk because your bone mass may decrease as you age.
  • Age – As you age, your bones become thinner and weaker.
  • Hormone levels – Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, more bone loss occurs during menopause due to falling estrogen levels. Prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause loss of bone mass.
  • Eating disorders and other conditions – Severely restricting food intake and being underweight can lead to weakened bones in both men and women. Additionally, weight-loss surgery and conditions such as celiac disease can affect your body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Certain medications – Long-term use of corticosteroid medications such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone is harmful to bone. Other drugs that may increase the risk of osteoporosis include aromatase inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, methotrexate, certain anti-seizure drugs, such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital, and proton pump inhibitors for treating breast cancer.

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You can adopt some tips to prevent or slow down bone loss like –

  • Include plenty of calcium in your diet. Women ages 51 and older and men ages 71 and older should get 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines and soy products such as tofu.
  • Pay attention to your vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as salmon, trout, whitefish and tuna. Additionally, mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods, such as milk and cereals, are good sources of vitamin D. Sunlight also contributes to the production of vitamin D in the body.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, can help you build stronger bones and slow bone loss.
  • Avoid drug abuse, do not smoke. If you are a woman, avoid drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day. If you are male, avoid drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day.
  • Evidence suggests that collagen supplements may help protect bone health. Collagen is the main protein found in bones. It contains the amino acids glycine, proline and lysine, which help build bone, muscles, ligaments and other tissues. Collagen can be found in gelatin, which has been used for many years to relieve joint pain.
  • If you are concerned about your bone health or risk factors for osteoporosis, including a recent bone fracture, consult your doctor. He or she may perform a bone density test and the results will help your doctor assess your bone density and determine the rate of bone loss.

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Bone health is important at all stages of life. However, having strong bones is something that people take for granted, as symptoms often do not appear until bone loss has progressed. The good thing is that bone health can be improved by changing nutrition and lifestyle habits.

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