No Bones About It- Keeping an Eye on Healthy Bones
Weakening bone structure can become a mounting concern going into later years, amidst natural chemistry changes. Most people have a friend or loved one who might not be the same after a bad fall or broken hip. A fragile bone can be the cause of a painful fall and break as opposed to a fall causing the break. It can appear to be a bit of a chicken and the egg situation, but in fact, deteriorating bone structure is often the root cause. The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) summarizes best practices in their article “Strategies to Support a Healthy Bone Structure.”
The spine, hips and wrists are the danger zone for common osteoporotic fractures. Statistically, 40% of post-menopausal women and 30% of men can expect to experience such a fracture at some point in their life, as shown in studies of U.S. and European populations.
Hip fractures are an area of concern as they are associated with high rates of chronic disease, mortality, loss of independence and increased financial hardship. When it comes to bone health, prevention is key for overall health and for avoiding further bone loss.
Weight-Bearing Exercise for the Win
Exercise is fundamental for bone maintenance. Specifically, it is imperative to include weight-bearing exercise into your routine, which means activities that allow the skeletal system to work against gravity and utilize the power of resistance. High-impact weight-bearing exercises are activities such as jogging, step aerobics, jump rope, tennis and more. Moderate impact can include stair climbing, dancing or hiking.
Low-impact exercises are best for individuals impacted with severe bone loss. Good choices of low-impact exercises are the elliptical or stair machine, performing low-impact aerobics or simply walking in the local neighborhood. The main point is to get up and do something, and almost any approved weight-bearing exercise that fits your fitness level will do.
Weight-bearing exercises stimulate both the muscles and the bones they are attached to. Stress placed on the tendon of the bone will help to build up the bone. Exercise and specific training can also help improve balance and coordination, which in turn decreases fall risk. Adding weights to exercises can also boost its benefits. Weightlifting whatever you can, such as a couple of soup cans to build up stamina before moving on to heavier items, can help provide the resistance required to build up bone strength. Special elastic band trainers and weight machines are also helpful for this purpose.
Studies indicate that all it takes is 20 minutes of modest impact or resistance training three times per week to improve bone mineral density. Vibration therapy has also shown promise as it causes muscles and bones to work against gravity and is employed for increasing bone density in older individuals and people at risk for osteoporosis.
Nutrients Needed for Better Bone Health
As the body ages, metabolism changes as well. Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs), nutritionists and dietitians can recommend specific food and supplements that will most benefit the needs of the internal skeletal system, in addition to more general dietary planning. Calcium, Vitamin D and Magnesium are three big power players in this conversation.
Remember those adorable old ‘Got Milk?’ ads with beloved celebrities and athletes proudly showing off their cartoonish milk mustaches? That was a coordinated effort to remind people to drink more milk and take in more calcium. Milk always seems to be pushed on kids, but calcium requirements actually increase with age, so the older population is more likely to suffer from calcium deficiency. Collagen and calcium work together to strengthen the bones.
Calcium is also stored in the bones for use in blood and cells. So, if you don’t take in enough calcium, reserve calcium will be taken from your bones for other areas of the body and leads to more fragile bones. To replenish your body’s supply, it is necessary to consume a steady amount of this nutrient in food and through supplements if needed. Food sources full of calcium include dairy, salmon, sardines, dark leafy greens, seeds, lentils, beans, almonds, fortified foods and beverages.
The yen to calcium’s yang, vitamin D is essential for proper calcium absorption. This vitamin also helps with other aspects of bone health, muscle performance and balance. It is also linked to health risks and issues related to the immune system, so it is frightening that vitamin D deficiency is one of the most prevalent global deficiencies. An estimation of at least 50% of the U.S. population is affected by vitamin D deficiency.
It is challenging to take in enough Vitamin D from food sources alone, but luckily the issue is easily remedied with supplements, as Vitamin D3 is highly absorbable. Around 10 minutes in the sun each day is also helpful to boost your body’s vitamin D production. Oily fish like salmon and swordfish are high in vitamin D.
People with high magnesium intake usually have a higher bone density. If your magnesium levels are low, it might result in an imbalance of Vitamin D levels. Nuts like almonds, cashews and peanuts contain magnesium, as well as legumes like kidney beans and lentils. For every eight-ounce glass of milk, about 25 milligrams of magnesium is consumed. Safe daily magnesium levels can be up to 10 times that, though it is another nutrient that can be difficult to fully take in through food and may require a supplement. Alcohol consumption can deplete Magnesium in the body as well, so a reduction in intake is advised for those concerned with bone health.
Other Vitamins and Minerals That Aid Bone Health
These vitamins and minerals are not quite as pivotal as the big three above, but they still help keep your body healthy and can be found in healthy foods and in supplement form. These include, but are not limited to: Vitamin C, Inosital, L-Arginine, Silicon, Boron, Zinc, Collagen and Vitamin K. These supporting players aid with bone formation, remodeling, absorption of calcium and stabilization of vitamin D. Vitamin K and Collagen come into the forefront when it comes to reducing bone turnover and fortifying connective tissues.
Talk to your chiropractor or other primary care professionals about your dietary needs,
risks for osteoporosis or the potential need for a screening. Your DC can also help you to preserve bone strength and prevent further bone loss by helping you to reach and maintain proper spinal alignment and muscle balance.
Sources (from original F4CP article)
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