If you had a house with an unsteady foundation or shaky walls, you’d worry about your safety while inside. In the same vein, your bones serve as the foundation and walls of your body. They provide structure, protect your vital organs, anchor your muscles, and store vitamins and minerals. Your bones are constantly changing — adding new bone as old bone breaks down. Over time, however, your body breaks down more than it adds.
Because of the gradual loss of bone, you should know how to promote bone health, especially as you age. Ignoring your bones can lead to debilitating conditions — such as osteoarthritis, back pain and brittle bones. Take measures to facilitate, encourage and strengthen bone health to prevent the devastating consequences of osteoporosis, fractures, and breaks that can seriously affect your daily life.
Risk Factors to Avoid
A wide range of risk factors impact your bone health. Your spinal physicians at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) help you discern which you’re most likely to face and what you can do to limit your risk, when possible. Risk factors include:
- Gender; females are more susceptible
- Certain ethnicities
- A family history of brittle bones
- Having a Body Mass Index under 19
- Abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol
- Hormone levels that can have an effect
- Certain illnesses; ask your doctor
- Medications that hinder your body’s ability to produce healthy bones
- Too little physical activity in your day, including weight-bearing exercises
- Insufficient Vitamin D, either in your diet or as supplements
- For adults 19–70, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 600 International Units (IU)
- For adults 71 and older, the RDA is 800 IU
- Not getting plenty of calcium in your diet, through a combination of foods and supplement
- For adults 19–50 and men 51-70, the RDA is 1,000 mg
- For women after age 50 and men after 70, the RDA is 1,200 mg
A Key Element in Back Health
Your spine is like the main support beam in a home. The bones and muscles in your back need proper nutrition to support your body and perform its many functions. While supplements have their place, getting your calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Vitamin C, proteins, Vitamin B12 and iron from the food you eat is preferable.
A variety of foods can help you fulfill your daily allotment with delicious results. Foods that are best for bone health include:
- Fortified soy milk
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Chinese cabbage or bok choy
- Beans and legumes
- Sardines and salmon with edible bones, usually canned
- Fortified orange juice
- Nuts, especially almonds
- Fortified dairy products
Available Scans for Diagnosis
Having your bone density measured by your SSI specialist can help you find any possible weaknesses. The non-invasive scan, often targeting your lower back or lumbar region, uses a minimum amount of radiation and takes between 10 and 30 minutes. These tests are easy, fast and painless, and they usually require no preparation on your part.
Taking care of your bones is the perfect way to help ensure continued health, mobility and a high-quality lifestyle. To make the most of your bone health journey, talk to your doctor or spinal specialist about a specific plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. Your foundation will thank you.