When you think about caring for your health and wellbeing, your bones may not be the first thing you think of – you can’t see them after all! But bones – just like our muscles – are living tissue, growing and changing continuously throughout our lifetime.
We build bone mass during childhood and adolescence, reach peak bone mass by around our mid-20s, and start to lose bone mass after around age 30. For women, this loss accelerates at menopause, placing them at greater risk of fragile bones in old age. That’s why it’s really important to do your best to build strong, dense bones when you’re young, and try to maintain bone density as you age!
Fortunately, managing your nutrition and lifestyle habits could help to reduce that risk. Here are four great ways to keep your bones healthy and happy!
1. Make sure to get enough calcium
Calcium is an essential mineral, which helps support bone mineral density and healthy teeth throughout your entire life. Your body can’t produce it so you need to get it from the food that you eat.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of calcium from foods including milk and yoghurt, sardines (with bones), tofu, almonds, seeds, beans, lentils and dark leafy greens like kale, bok choy and collard greens.
There are also some foods and drinks you should limit as they actually contribute to loss of calcium from your bones! Salt, coffee and soda are just a few of the culprits (sorry!).
2. Do weight-bearing exercises
Weight-bearing exercises are great for bone health. By using your weight to put stress on your bones, you actually stimulate bone growth and slow down age-related bone density loss. Some easy weight-bearing exercises include: skipping rope, jumping, step ups, squats, racquet sports and hiking.
3. Spend time outdoors for vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for your body to absorb calcium. You can get vitamin D through your diet, and your body makes it naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight – so feel great and maximise calcium absorption by spending time outdoors.Aim for 15-30 minutes of sunlight a day, and a little longer for those living far north (especially in winter). Why not take your exercise outdoors and kill two birds with one stone? And don’t forget the SPF!
4. Take a calcium supplement
If you’re worried that you might not be getting enough calcium from your diet, a calcium supplement can be an easy way to top up on the nutrients your bones need.
Breathe easy knowing you’re doing the best you can for your bones!