Health

Tips to keep bones healthy and strong

man doing press up in the park

Why is bone health so important?

If you’ve ever broken a bone, you’ll know exactly why looking after them is so important. As well as helping us build up more resilience to potential injury (which can be painful and involve long recovery times), healthy bones allow us to go around our daily business with more ease. And a healthy skeleton doesn’t only keep us mobile, it also protects our vital organs.

However, one thing you may not realise is that our bones are constantly changing. While old bone constantly gets broken down and is replaced with new bone, over time this process becomes less efficient – meaning our bones can become weaker as we age. If we’re not careful, this can develop into osteoporosis – a condition that makes our bones fragile and more likely to break.

So how can we keep bones healthy and strong for life? Here are a few tips, from the best supplements to take for bone health to the lifestyle habits to embrace:

Add more calcium to your diet

milk and cheese on board

Calcium is an essential nutrient for our bodies – and best known for its role in bone and teeth health. The majority (99%) of the calcium in our bodies lives in our bones. When we regenerate new bone tissue, calcium from our blood attaches itself to a collagen framework. A calcium deficiency can compromise this process, making bones less dense, weaker and less flexible.

It also contributes to the body’s blood-clotting ability, regulating nerve function, muscle contractions and healthy heart function – all the more reason to ensure you’re getting enough!

Despite being so essential, our bodies aren’t actually able to make calcium. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to include calcium in our diets.

Many foods are rich in calcium, including dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, fish such as salmon, and plant-based sources such as soybeans and leafy greens.

You may also want to introduce a calcium supplement into your routine, such as Nature’s Truth Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc. Keep reading to find out how these other nutrients can support bone health, too.

Introduce weight-training or high-intensity exercise

Woman lunging with weight plate

One way to help maintain strong bones and build new ones is through exercise. This is because exercise has a similar effect on bones as it does on muscles, although this isn’t as widely discussed in the fitness world. As living tissue, bone is responsive to our lifestyle habits and diet – the more we work it, the more it regenerates and the stronger it becomes.

As with building muscle tissue, bone health is most responsive to weight-bearing or high-impact exercise. Try things like hiking, playing tennis, dancing or even just ensuring that you’re walking daily – but any kind of movement will be beneficial.

Also read: The fitness expert’s guide to running for beginners

Make sure you’re taking the right supplements

Calcium isn’t the only nutrient linked to better bone health. As mentioned previously, vitamin D also plays a role, and helps to maximise calcium’s bone-strengthening effect.

Magnesium is another supplement to consider if you’re thinking about improving your bone health. This essential mineral also works to help increase bone density and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. It’s found in foods such as spinach and nuts, but it can be hard to attain from food alone on a modern, fast-paced diet.

Zinc is also crucial to overall bone health, as it contributes to normal skeletal growth and bone homeostasis – this means its ability to retain its form and structure as it regenerates.

Other supplements linked to bone and joint strength include glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3s and green tea.

Also read: Which vitamins should I take daily?

Strive to maintain a healthy weight

Making a default link between our body weight and our health can be reductive and unhelpful. However, studies have shown that people classed as ‘underweight’ are at a greater risk of breaking bones and developing osteoporosis.

Historically, this has been determined by calculating your BMI (body mass index), which takes into consideration your height, weight, age and gender. According to the parameters of BMI, a rating of 18.5 or below is classed as underweight. But this metric doesn’t take into consideration things like muscle mass, body shape, if you’re pregnant or white versus brown fat stores – the former is the ‘unhealthy’ type of fat, building up around the stomach and our organs when we consume too many calories; the latter burns energy and is less of a danger to health. All in all, this makes BMI alone an inaccurate portrayal of whether someone’s weight is deemed ‘healthy’.

Beyond the visual, other physical clues that you may be dangerously underweight are:

  • Feeling fatigued
  • Struggling to focus
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Poor immunity (for example, catching lots of colds)
  • Hair loss
  • Irregular periods

Speak to a medical professional if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or if you want to discuss your weight in further detail or calculate your BMI.

You can also visit beateatingdisorders.org.uk, the website for the UK-registered charity BEAT. Here, you can access free resources, online chat support and find the best numbers to call for over-the-phone help.

If you’re concerned about your bone health and your overall diet, talk to your GP. They can assess whether a bone density scan is needed.

Based on the results, they’ll be able to offer advice on how to improve your bone health or refer you for treatment.

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Nature's Truth

Nature's Truth

Writer and expert