Building your bones foreverWhen you think about staying healthy you probably think about making lifestyle changes to prevent conditions like cancer and heart disease. Getting enough calcium to keep your bones healthy may not be at the top of your wellness list. But it should be.
By: Crystal Hoepner, Public Health Educator, Alexandria Echo Press
When you think about staying healthy you probably think about making lifestyle changes to prevent conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Getting enough calcium to keep your bones healthy may not be at the top of your wellness list. But it should be.
You’re never too young or too old to improve the health of your bones. Bone is a living tissue, and the body builds new bone and loses old bone throughout your life.
Since bones are always changing, you can’t take them for granted. At each stage of your life you need to take steps to make them strong and keep them strong. One way to do that is by getting enough calcium.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), many people do not get the amount of calcium needed each day. Calcium is a mineral needed for healthy bones, teeth and proper heart, muscle and nerve function.
Getting enough calcium also means getting enough vitamin D to absorb and use the calcium. This is why milk is fortified with vitamin D. Fifteen minutes of sunlight a day will help you to meet the needs of vitamin D, or, you can take it in a pill form.
The body cannot produce calcium; therefore, it must be absorbed through food or alternative forms. Good sources of calcium include:
• Dairy products – low fat or nonfat milk, cheese and yogurt.
• Dark green leafy vegetables – broccoli.
• Calcium fortified foods – orange juice, cereal, bread, and soy beverages,
• Nuts – almonds.
A simple way to add calcium to foods is with a single tablespoon of nonfat powdered milk. Try adding it to homemade recipes, breads, muffins, soups or casseroles.
If you are unable to get enough calcium from your diet, then calcium supplements are an alternative. They are not designed to replace nutrition, only supplement. Calcium supplements are available in tablets, powders, liquids, and chewable chocolate.
For children and teens, bone building is the major focus, because at this time new bone growth occurs faster than loss. In fact, they’ll achieve peak bone strength and mass during these years. If kids build as much bone as they can, they’ll have more in reserve as they age.
For young and middle-aged adults, the goal is to maintain bone mass and strength by building as much new bone as you lose. Again, calcium and exercise is the key.
As we grow older, bone loss occurs faster than bone growth. People ages 50 and older need to take action to limit bone loss. Getting enough calcium and exercise still are vital. Some may need to take medicines that help protect bones.
Whatever your age, the habits adopted now can affect bone health for the rest of your life. Take action in 2012 to build your bones forever.