With aging comes the weakening and diminished density of the bones in the body. While some of this is natural, excessive bone loss or weakening can be osteoporosis, a degenerative disease of the bones that occurs from a large drop in bone density that leads to a more brittle and fragile bone structure. There are some proactive steps you can take, though, to help reduce and prevent the effects of osteoporosis from impacting your life.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends several healthy behaviors that can help promote bone health. These include eating a well-balanced diet that includes sufficient calcium and vitamin D intake that helps strengthen and maintain bones, as well as regular exercise to keep muscles and bones strong. In addition, NOF suggests people limit or avoid vices all together, including avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption to two to three drinks daily.
Calcium and vitamin D are integral to bone health, with calcium being one of the main building blocks of bone structures. The Mayo Clinic also notes that vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption in the body, which further helps to keep bones strong. While too much of either can lead to problems, such as the growth of kidney stones or heart issues that high calcium levels can cause, keeping these minerals in your diet or adding supplements can promote and maintain bone health.
Exercise is equally vital in promoting not only bone health, but also bone growth. According to a study by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, which was cited in a 2013 Prevention article, athletes tend to have a 13 percent higher level of bone density than less active people. This increased density from exercising can help develop stronger bones at earlier ages, while the regular activity and muscle growth can improve balance and strength throughout your lifetime and, in turn, reduce the chances of a fall-related injury, break or fracture.
While there are a number of other factors beyond aging – including some that may be unavoidable – that can play a role in the occurrence of osteoporosis, such as diabetes, low testosterone and estrogen levels or autoimmune diseases, by maintaining or supplementing your vitamin D and calcium intake and getting regular exercise, you can help keep your bones strong for a lifetime.