Everyone always talks about having strong, defined muscles and six pack abs. However, the
least talked about is what’s behind those; your skeleton. While strong muscles are great, even
stronger bones are better. Strong bones can promote longevity and prevent many serious
medical conditions like osteoporosis, where low bone density causes holes inside the bone to
widen and the outer walls of the bone (the cortex) to thin. This causes the bone to be more
fragile. The likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you attain by the time you reach age 30, and how rapidly you lose it after that.
All of us are born with a predetermined amount of bone mass we will be able to build, largely
based on genetics, but not all of us reach the peak of our bone mass potential. Factors that
affect bone health include:
-amount of calcium in your diet
-Lack of physical activity
-Tobacco and alcohol use
-Sex- greater risk for women as there is generally less bone tissue to work with in general
-Size- people who are extremely thing (BMI of 19 or less)
-Age- bones are thinner as you age
-Race and family history
-hormone levels- too much thyroid/dropping estrogen levels, amenorrhea, menopause
-eating disorders/lack of food intake
And while you can’t add as much to your bone mass in your later years as you can in your early years, you can protect what’s left and build some back up.
-Exercise: stimulates osteogenesis, the development and formation of bones. Weight-bearing
(walking/jogging/stair climbing) and resistance exercise can help maintain bone integrity and
build stronger bones
-Making food your medicine and making sure you are getting adequate vitamin intake; avoiding foods that cause inflammation to your system
-including plenty of calcium in your diet (great sources include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, salmon, sardines, and tofu)
-including vitamin D in your diet which is needed for absorption of calcium (sources include
mushrooms, eggs, cod liver oil, tuna, orange juice, sardines, beef liver)
-Vitamin C- plays essential role in assisting in the production of collagen (think citrus fruits and
vegetables like bell peppers and fruit like tomatoes)
-Magnesium- low levels of magnesium can impact your parathyroid hormone, which is intimately involved in bone health (think pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds, and cashews)
-Vitamin K2- ensures that calcium is deposited in your bones and not in the soft tissues and
blood vessels (think leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli)
-Protein- 1.1g per kg of bodyweight per day helps regulate parathyroid and enhancing calcium
-Adequate Sleep- Sleep rhythms may impact bone remodeling, therefore it is important to have a consistent sleep and wake cycle
Being proactive about bone health is key for longevity and living a fuller life. Just because you
cannot turn back time, you can preserve and enhance your current bone density and ensure it
doesn’t cause more problems.
Palombaro, Kerstin M PT, MS Effects of Walking-only
Interventions on Bone Mineral Density at Various Skeletal
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Castiglioni, Sara, et al. “Magnesium and osteoporosis:
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Vainionpää, A., Korpelainen, R., Leppäluoto, J. et al.
Effects of high-impact exercise on bone mineral density: a
randomized controlled trial in premenopausal women.
Osteoporos Int 16, 191–197 (2005).