Having strong bones is highly important if you want to be able to avoid broken bones, and especially as we head into old age. If you want to avoid nasty breaks and fractures, then maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is crucial. Here is how to do both and how it affects our bone density.
Vitamins and Minerals
Most important for maintaining healthy bones is to eat lots of the right vitamins and minerals – in other words fruit and vegetables. Unlike the rest of our tissue, bone is not made entirely from protein and is rather made mostly from calcium. Calcium is in fact the most abundant mineral in our bodies and 99% of it goes to building our teeth and bones. It's concerning then that most of the Western world does not get anywhere near enough calcium in their diets.
Meanwhile magnesium is also similarly important. Magnesium is used to build bones too and as it deteriorates so the crystals in the bones become larger and more brittle. Magnesium further helps us to absorb the calcium from our food and to retain it. Dairy alone then isn't enough for good bone health; you also need leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
Vitamin D is also very important as it helps to maintain the amounts of calcium in our blood and aids in the modelling of the bone. This is why we need to spend at least some time out in the sun, or consider supplementing with vitamin D. Potassium meanwhile is also highly important, as is boron, chromium and vitamin K.
That said protein still is important, as it is also involved in the formation of bone – specifically the protein osteocalcin which is involved in bone mineralization. Eating eggs then will do you good – but be careful as too much protein will increase the urinary excretion of calcium resulting in your bones having less available.
Alcohol, excessive sugar and caffeine are all bad for bone health as they result in the excessive urination of calcium. Meanwhile you should also avoid smoking which is a serious risk factor in osteoporosis – that's because smoking decreases oestrogen production which is important for protecting the bones. Smoking can also negatively affect our circulation thus resulting in slower delivery of minerals and nutrients to the bones.
Exercise is very good for bone density and can reduce the risk of osteopathy by 50% in men and women over 65 years of age. Weight bearing exercises are considered the most effective as they stimulate the body to build and strengthen bones in a similar way to the way in which it builds and strengthens muscle. High impact exercises like running and skipping are also actually very good for us despite popular belief. At the same time exercise can also help to improve circulation and anabolism thus helping the body to deliver those all-important minerals and vitamins.