9 Natural Ways to Build Healthy Bones

Bones play a major role in shaping the physical structure of an individual and it also plays many other roles such as protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium. While many of us give importance to building strong and healthy bones during our childhood and adolescence, we seldom give importance to protecting the health of the bone during adulthood. Contrary, to the belief, protecting the health of bones is actually pretty easy. A set of physical activities and eating the right diet can help you in protecting the bone health in the long run

Maintaining healthy bones is vital to avoid bone conditions like rickets and osteoporosis. In order to prevent these diseases, It is important to know how to improve bone health. While it is widely known that calcium and vitamin D are required to have good bone health, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients are also good for bones. Improving your bone health can be easy if you incorporate these foods into your diet.


1. Eat Lots of Vegetables

Vegetables are great for your bones. They're one of the best sources of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of bone-forming cells. In addition, some studies suggest that vitamin C's antioxidant effects may protect bone cells from damage.

Vegetables also seem to increase bone mineral density, also known as bone density. Bone density is a measurement of the amount of calcium and other minerals found in your bones. Both osteopenia {low bone mass} and osteoporosis {brittle bones} are conditions characterized by low bone density.

A high intake of green and yellow vegetables has been linked to increased bone mineralization during childhood and the maintenance of bone mass in young adults. Eating lots of vegetables has also been found to benefit older women. A study in women over 50 found those who consumed onions most frequently had a 20% lower risk of osteoporosis, compared to women who rarely ate them.

One major risk factor for osteoporosis in older adults is increased bone turnover, or the process of breaking down and forming new bone. In a three-month study, women who consumed more than nine servings of broccoli, cabbage, parsley or other plants high in bone-protective antioxidants had a decrease in bone turnover.


2. Boost calcium consumption


Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health, and it's the main mineral found in your bones. Because old bone cells are constantly broken down and replaced by new ones, it's important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength. The RDI for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most people, although teens need 1,300 mg and older women require 1,200 mg.

However, the amount of calcium your body actually absorbs can vary greatly. Interestingly, if you eat a meal containing more than 500 mg of calcium, your body will absorb much less of it than if you consume a lower amount. Therefore, it's best to spread your calcium intake throughout the day by including one high-calcium food from this list at each meal.

It's also best to get calcium from foods rather than supplements. A recent 10-year study of 1,567 people found that although high calcium intake from foods decreased the risk of heart disease overall, those who took calcium supplements had a 22% greater risk of heart disease.


3. Get Plenty of Vitamin D and Vitamin K


Where there’s calcium, there must be vitamin D the two work together to help the body absorb bone-boosting calcium. Boost vitamin D consumption by munching on shrimp, fortified foods like cereal and orange juice, sardines, eggs {in the yolks} and tuna, or opt for a vitamin D supplement. Greatist Expert Eugene Babenko suggests getting your vitamin D {specifically vitamin D3} levels checked at your next doctor’s appointment, and to discuss the use of supplements with your doctor.

The body also produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun — 10 to 15 minutes of exposure three times per week will do. Vitamin D’s importance to bone health has been proven in studies on “seasonal bone loss” — elderly people can lose more bone mass during the winter because of lack of sun exposure. Though these and many other studies on bone loss looked at elderly people specifically, bone health is all about prevention, so younger folks should catch a few rays to stock up on D.

 Vitamin K is mostly known for helping out with blood clotting, but it also helps the body make proteins for healthy bones. However, the exact way vitamin K contributes to bone health is unclear. Two studies on young girls showed that vitamin K had different effects: one showed that vitamin K slowed bone turnover, but it didn’t have any effect on bone mineral density, while the other found the reverse.

Another study specifically compared the effects of vitamins K and D on calcium absorption in rats, and it turns out the two vitamins work well as a team: vitamin D stimulated calcium absorption in the intestines, while vitamin K reduced the amount of calcium excreted by the body. Regardless of how vitamin K might help, fill up on it with foods like kale, broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach.


4. Perform Strength Training and Weight-Bearing Exercises



Seriously. Regular exercise is key to keep a number of health issues at bay, and bone health is no exception. In fact, living a sedentary lifestyle is considered a risk factor for osteoporosis. One study comparing bone density in college women with various body weights and activity levels found that athletes with low body weight had the highest bone density of any group in the study, showing exercise {and low body weight} can have a positive effect on bone density.

What type of exercise is most effective? Weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, jumping rope, skiing and stair climbing keep bones strongest. Resistance training has also been shown to improve bone health in several studies, so pick up the weights after going for a jog. Bonus for the older readers: improved strength and balance helps prevent falls {and the associated fractures} in those who already have osteoporosis.


5.Quit smoking


Here’s yet another reason to lose the cigarettes: multiple studies have shown that smoking can prevent the body from efficiently absorbing calcium, decreasing bone mass.


6. Maintain a Stable, Healthy Weight


In addition to eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight can help support bone health. For example, being underweight increases the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis. This is especially the case in postmenopausal women who have lost the bone-protective effects of estrogen.

In fact, low body weight is the main factor contributing to reduced bone density and bone loss in this age group. On the other hand, some studies suggest that being obese can impair bone quality and increase the risk of fractures due to the stress of excess weight. While weight loss typically results in some bone loss, it is usually less pronounced in obese individuals than normal-weight individuals. Overall, repeatedly losing and regaining weight appears particularly detrimental to bone health, as well as losing a large amount of weight in a short time.

One recent study found that bone loss during weight loss was not reversed when weight was regained, which suggests that repeated cycles of losing and gaining weight may lead to significant bone loss over a person's lifetime. Maintaining a stable normal or slightly higher than normal weight is your best bet when it comes to protecting your bone health.


7. Consume less caffeine


Caffeine does have some health benefits, but unfortunately not for our bones. Too much of it can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. One study showed that drinking more than two cups of coffee per day accelerated bone loss in subjects who also didn’t consume enough calcium. Another study {albeit on elderly women} showed that more than 18 ounces of coffee per day can accelerate bone loss by negatively interacting with vitamin D. So enjoy the java, but keep it in moderation and consume enough calcium, too.


8. Avoid Very Low-Calorie Diets


Dropping calories too low is never a good idea. In addition to slowing down your metabolism, creating rebound hunger and causing muscle mass loss, it can also be harmful to bone health. Studies have shown that diets providing fewer than 1,000 calories per day can lead to lower bone density in normal-weight, overweight or obese individuals.

In one study, obese women who consumed 925 calories per day for four months experienced a significant loss of bone density from their hip and upper thigh region, regardless of whether they performed resistance training. To build and maintain strong bones, follow a well-balanced diet that provides at least 1,200 calories per day. It should include plenty of protein and foods rich in vitamins and minerals that support bone health.


9. Know your family history


As with many medical conditions, family history is a key indicator of bone health. Those with a parent or sibling who has or had osteoporosis are more likely to develop it. “So, how’s your bone density, Grandma?” might seem like an awkward question at Thanksgiving dinner, but ask anyway before she passes the gravy.

Bone health is important at all stages of life. However, having strong bones is something people tend to take for granted, as symptoms often don't appear until bone loss is advanced. Fortunately, there are many nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help build and maintain strong bones — and it's never too early to start.



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