Strengthen Bones The Healthy Way—With Diet And Supplements

Bone health is a concern we all must face as we age. If you don’t like the idea of giving up a weekly tennis game due to stiff elbows, or cutting short time with grandchildren due to aching hips, it is time to evaluate your habits to ensure healthy bones for years to come. Expensive prescription medications may be advertised everywhere these days, but you can also boost bone health by eating the right foods and taking effective vitamin supplements.

Supplements that Strengthen Bones

The word, “osteoporosis,” means porous bones. As we age, bones become brittle and prone to fractures. A shortage of calcium, phosphorous and other minerals causes bones to weaken. Osteoporosis affects both men and women, although women are twice as likely to suffer from fractures due to the condition. The sharp drop in estrogen that comes with menopause creates the larger risk factor for women, but low testosterone in men can make them susceptible as well. Women also tend to have lower bone density than men to begin with.

Whether you are a man or a woman, low bone density puts you at risk for fractures that can impact mobility as you age. So what to do about it? You needn’t wait for a diagnosis to start building healthy bones. Taking the proper dosage of certain vitamins builds strong bones and could result in minimizing the effects of aging and changing hormone levels.

Most everyone has heard that getting enough calcium could boost bone health but it’s important that you get the right kind of calcium. The most effective forms of calcium are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Any supplement will specify on the label which types it contains, so read closely. Adults over 50 years of age need 1,200 mg of calcium each day, and most of us do not reach this goal through food alone. Calcium supplements should be a must for anyone.

Any regimen of calcium supplements must be accompanied by vitamin D. This vitamin is necessary to help the body absorb enough calcium to benefit bones. Other vitamins to include in your treatment plan are vitamin K, which is important for bone growth and magnesium, which interacts with calcium in the body. Other helpful substances found in some supplements are glucosamine, which helps build and repair cartilage; MSM, a form of sulfur, which promotes flexibility; and omega-3 fish oils, which reduce inflammation and soothe troubled joints.

Eat Smart for Healthy Bones

A healthy diet targeting bone health can make supplements even more effective. Fruits and vegetables contain a long list of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that interact and promote natural harmony in the body. Research shows that as we age “bone resorption”, or the process by which bones break down and lose minerals, can actually increase. One cause of bone resorption is the decreased ability to excrete acid, which is a normal bi-product of dietary metabolism. The increased acid levels cause bones to release calcium, phosphates and alkaline salts, resulting in lower bone density.

A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that increasing fruit and vegetable intake can help prevent this resorption. These nutritious foods supply bicarbonate, an alkaline substance, which counteracts excess acid from protein and grains. You should not eliminate beneficial whole grains and lean protein as long as they are balanced with plenty of fresh produce daily.

Regardless of your age, calcium-rich foods in your diet are an excellent way to build strong bones. Calcium is present in dairy products, as well as a variety of delicious foods. Almonds, spinach, broccoli, kale, oats and tofu all supply a high level of your daily calcium needs, and there are many more as well. Food labels list calcium content, so it’s easy to make smart choices. If you eat one calcium-rich food at each meal, you can satisfy most of your daily goal. Make up the difference through supplements.

Bone health is a universal concern for women and men, young and old. If you boost bone health starting early in life, you will lower your risk of fractures as you age. If you are already over 50, it is not too late to strengthen bones and prevent further resorption. With diet and supplements, it is easy to make changes the natural way.

Photo Credit: renjith krishnan


Mark Bromson, M.D.

Dr. Bromson is Board Certified and Recertified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and is also certified in Age Management Medicine.

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