Five easy steps to better bone health

No matter how healthy you are your body starts losing bone mass naturally after the menopause and for some women that can happen in their 40s. The result can be the brittle, fragile bones and poor posture associated with osteoporosis. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to promote bone health throughout your life.

As women we reach our peak bone mass around the age of 25-30 so the more bone younger women can put on the bigger the advantage when they reach the menopause. But with bone it is never too late to make a difference so follow the five steps below:

  1. Do weight bearing exercise: Muscle pulling on bone builds bone so weight bearing and weight training exercise can help you build stronger bones. The best exercises for building bone include body toning, jogging, brisk walking, weight training, stair climbing, dancing and other activities which help you work against gravity; swimming although a great form of exercise is not the ideal bone booster as you are buoyant in the water. Aim for 30 minutes of bone bearing exercise three to five times a week.
  2. Get enough calcium in your diet: Low calcium levels are known to contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Depending on your age you need between 700 to 1000mg of calcium a day. Dairy products are not the only source of calcium and you also get good amount from leafy dark green vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, grains, legumes and seeds (especially sesame seeds).
  3. Get enough vitamin D: Vitamin D is needed for your body to absorb calcium from the foods you eat. Vitamin D comes from two sources: through the skin following direct exposure to the sun and from diet. An exposure of 10 to 15 minutes of sun for at least two hours a week is usually enough to provide adequate vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, and tuna and egg yolk. We now know that good levels of vitamin D are important for cancer prevention so if you would like your vitamin D levels checked then do see the Resources Page X.
  4. Five a day: Taking five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily can help build better bones. A recent study found that women who consumed 3.5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily had greater bone density than those who did not. Fruits and vegetables are alkaline and are good sources of magnesium and potassium two major nutrients that can help protect against bone loss.
  5. Don’t Smoke and Moderate Alcohol: Nicotine is toxic to bone and the first thing you need to do to protect bone health if you smoke is quit. Smoking not only reduces bone density (by up to 25%) but also increases the risk of hip fracture. Alcohol in moderation is fine, but just one or two drinks a week. Alcohol acts like a diuretic, causing the leaching of valuable minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

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