It’s often forgotten that bones are like muscles in that they can be strengthened with proper diet and exercise. Typically, bones continue to grow and get stronger until you reach your late 20s. By 40, bones may start to slowly deteriorate. If bones weaken too quickly, osteoporosis could result.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 53 million Americans have osteoporosis or are at risk due to low bone mass. Having this disease can drastically increase a person’s chance of fracturing or breaking a hip, back or hand.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can build your bones and keep them strong.
Bones need calcium and vitamin D to get and stay strong. Numerous studies have linked low calcium intake with low bone mass, rapid bone loss and high fracture rates. Vitamin D plays a huge role in helping the body absorb calcium.
While milk is rich in both calcium and vitamin D, you can also get calcium from the following: almonds; calcium-fortified foods like cereal, orange juice and bread; dairy products including yogurt and cheese; dark leafy greens – kale, spinach and bok choy. Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, liver and saltwater fish.
Bones respond to exercise in the same way your muscles do, by becoming stronger.
However, while muscles might grow from low-impact exercises like swimming, biking and elliptical machines, bones benefit from weight-bearing exercises such as climbing stairs, jogging, jump rope, walking and weight training.
Enjoy the Sunshine
Your body is capable of making its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Your body can manufacture all the vitamin D you need if you spend about 30 to 45 minutes each week in the sun.
While it’s true that drinking milk is an excellent way to build stronger bones, it’s not the only way to protect yourself from osteoporosis.
There are also many factors that can weaken bones. Here are things to avoid if you wish to sustain strong bones.
Alcohol. Daily consumption of two to three ounces of alcohol can make you more prone to bone loss. Alcohol also increases the chance of falling — increasing the risk of fractures.
Medications. Some medications can contribute to bone loss. Ask your primary care provider what options are best for you.
Smoking. Not only is smoking bad for your heart and lungs, it can also impede your body’s ability to absorb calcium from your diet.