Your bones are the structural support system for your body, and having healthy bones is important to overall health. As people get older, their bones generally become less and less dense, and some people can develop osteoporosis, which causes bones to become brittle and weak and more likely to fracture. Osteoporosis is most common for women over the age of 65 and men over 70, but the conditions that can lead up to it begin when we are much younger. People reach their peak bone mass before the age of 30, and afterward bone density gradually diminishes as they get older. However, there are things that you can do to help stave off this depletion.
One important thing to know is your family’s history. Because bone health is related to your genes, conditions like osteoporosis can be more common in families with a predisposition for it. If you know you are at a greater risk, you can take the appropriate precautions. One precaution to take is to increase the calcium you take in, since calcium is a principle part of bones. For bone health we need about 1200 mg of elemental calcium on a daily basis. One glass of skim or low fat milk will provide 300 mg or 1/4 of your requirements. Consuming calcium isn’t enough. Vitamin D regulates how your body uses calcium. In the past 5 years doctors have learned that most people have insufficient vitamin D levels circulating in their blood. Your body needs Vitamin D in order to appropriately process the calcium and strengthen bones. There are several forms of vitamin D. Our skin cells produce the active form of Vitamin D when exposed to the sun, but with most people working indoors or wearing sunscreen when outside, our natural vitamin D production is often suppressed. Vitamin D levels can be measured in the blood and so if supplementation is necessary this can be determined by blood testing. Some exposure to the sun a few minutes every day is generally enough, but eating foods with vitamin D can help supplement this natural production. The highest vitamin D content in our diet is from fatty fishes.
Vitamin K is also helpful in maintaining healthy bones. Although it’s unclear what the exact mechanism is by which Vitamin K helps bones, studies do show a benefit. Potassium also helps with bone health, but not directly. Studies show that potassium may help reduce acids that can leech calcium from the body and so help maintain bone health by maintaining levels of calcium.
Healthy lifestyle choices are also important to bone health. Regular exercise helps strengthen bones, especially though weight-training. Weight training has been shown in studies to increase the strength of bones and even to help stave off osteoporosis. Caffeine has been shown to reduce the body’s efficiency in absorbing calcium, and in that way can have a negative effect on bone health. So even though calcium does have some health benefits, if you’re worried about bone health, it might be a good idea to reduce how much coffee you’re drinking. The key, as with many things, is moderation. And this is true of alcohol as well. Moderate amounts of alcohol may in fact help bone growth, according to recent studies, but too much will have a negative impact. On the other hand, smoking in any amount is unhealthy for many reasons, including for your bones.
As with many health concerns, the key to maintaining good strong bones is through a healthy diet and efficient exercise. Dr. Kordonowy has been diagnosing and treating osteoporosis for nearly 20 years. He offers an affordable once a year 20-30 minute intravenous infusion of FDA approved medication called Zoledronic acid to treat this condition if it is severe enough. If you’re concerned about your bone health, especially if osteoporosis runs in your family, or if you want advice on living a more healthy life, be sure to contact Internal Medicine, Lipids, and Wellness of Fort Myers today, at (239) 362-3005, Dr. extension 200.