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Building healthy bones

Published on September 15, 2015

Building healthy bones

Clara Vancura, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Health – Long Prairie

Most people reach their peak bone mass at the age of 30.My mother recently broke a bone and it reminded me how important it is for all ages to build healthy bones. Bone health is one of those topics not regularly discussed at an annual physical until after the age of 50 or after having broken a bone. Preferably, everyone should be working on their bone health in their 20s, when storing calcium is at its highest. If you missed that timeframe, don’t fear — it’s never too late!

Bones are on a continuous cycle of replacement, switching older bone for newer bone throughout our lives. Generally, most people reach their peak bone mass at the age of 30. After that, our body maintains the continuous cycle, but the new growth is slower than the use of the old causing the overall mass of bones to shrink. Overall, the goal is to have the greatest amount of bone mass by age 30 so that there is more for your body to use for the rest of your life to avoid having brittle bones (osteoporosis).

Now, for those of you over 30, there is no need to panic. By following the tips below, you also can help slow the use of “old bone” to compensate for the lack of storage before that magical age.

Tips to help increase bone health

  • Get calcium in your diet! If you do not drink milk, eat yogurt, drink fortified orange juice or have any milk products regularly, take calcium and a vitamin D supplement. When you pick one out, just make sure you take it.
    • Calcium: Dietary recommendation of 1,000 mg a day (increase to 1,200 mg a day for women after age 50 and men after age 70)
    • Vitamin D: Dietary recommendations of 600 international units a day (Or more since the sunlight in our lives starting this fall and into spring is not utilized up in this Northern of hemisphere. I also wouldn’t recommend sunbathing in December — chilly!)
  • Be physically active! By using your muscles you also are using your bones and keeping them in great shape, especially when doing weight bearing exercise (weight lifting, running and walking all count).
  • Tobacco use does not help. Research suggests that tobacco use overall contributes to weak bones.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Having more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis.

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About the Author

Clara Faust, RD

Clara Vancura, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Health – Long Prairie
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