Building good bone density in your early teenage years can set you up well for life. But if you’re older or in a risk category for osteopenia or osteoporosis, it’s not too late to regain bone density with these simple 3 tips we’re going to share with you today.
Why Is Bone Density Important?
Firstly, we’re going to talk a little bit about why bone density is important for your health. Your bone density is essentially the strength of your skeleton, so it’s incredibly important for keeping better quality of life as you age. This is especially important for ladies, as your oestrogen levels during menopause can leave you more at risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis. We’ve spoken more about this research in our previous article on osteoporosis, [ LINK ] but during your younger years you lay down about 35% of your bone density. Building a good foundation during this time allows you more scope in case you lose more later in life. So if you have young children or grandchildren, it’s very important that they’re consuming enough calcium, getting enough vitamin D and exercise in order to build that bone density. If you led an inactive life during those years, your bone density may be lower than normal. If you’re worried that you may be more at risk of poor bone density later in life, you can speak to your GP to see if a DEXA scan might be appropriate for you, but these can also be done privately at a not too expensive price point.
Improving Levels Of Vitamin D
Spending time outside allows your body to naturally produce vitamin D. There are certain caveats to be aware of with this statement. Although it can take roughly just 15 minutes to produce your daily recommended amount of vitamin D, this can depend on how much clothing you have covering your skin as to how quickly your body does this. There is also a myth out there that you’re more likely to be vitamin D deficient if you wear sunscreen, but there haven’t been any concrete studies that confirm this to be the case so do continue to wear sunscreen if you’re exposing your skin to the sun. Furthermore, if you live in the UK like we do, you may want to consider supplementing vitamin D in the months between September and March, especially if you spend most of your time indoors. During these months of the year it can often be the case that when you travel to and from work, there is no or a limited amount of sunlight, which can make getting enough natural exposure difficult.
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Supplementing vitamin D is very inexpensive, and getting enough is very important as it not only impacts your bone density but also around 5% of your gene processes. It’s also linked to good general health and immunity so do make sure you’re consuming the recommended daily allowance. If you decide to supplement, also make sure that you’re not over-consuming too much vitamin D, your GP may be able to tell you more specifically how much to take. You cannot overproduce vitamin D naturally, as your body will just stop producing vitamin D when it’s made enough.
Increasing Calcium Intake
Calcium is an additional mineral that impacts your bone density. Not just this, enough calcium can make sure your blood is effectively clotting when it needs to, enables our muscles to contract and your heart to beat normally. In some cases, a higher amount of calcium intake can be recommended but it is worthwhile chatting to your GP to see if you would benefit from consuming a higher amount. In a study we looked at comparing the difference in post-menopausal women increasing their intake of calcium from 40mg per day to 800mg, the difference in bone density was much better. However, a higher intake can also put you more at risk of heart attacks, stroke, kidney stones or gastrointestinal problems, so it is important to discuss your options with your GP. Adequate calcium intake combined with a healthy amount of vitamin D, may be key overall to better bone health, rather than calcium alone. In one such study, 3,800 elderly women in France, some were given 1,200mg of calcium combined with vitamin D at a level of 800IU, and saw a 23% lower risk of hip fracture and 17% overall lower risk of fracture compared to a placebo group.
Joint / Load Specific Adaptation
Taking part in exercise that loads a joint can help to stimulate improved bone density, by improving the activity of two sets of cells responsible for breaking down and rebuilding bone tissue. If you’re not sure what kind of exercises you can do, Phases 2 and 3 of our Back In Shape program incorporates load bearing exercise, which can help to improve bone density in the lower back and hips. Exercises involving more impact have been shown to improve your bone density over time, but exercise in general can be a powerful preventative mechanism against osteoporosis in the future. Do make sure to incorporate loading and resistance training into your routine, especially if you do choose to do lower impact exercise such as walking or swimming, as these alone may not load the joints enough to stimulate an improvement of bone density.
We hope you enjoyed today’s article and found it helpful if you or someone you know may be at risk of poorer bone density later in life. If you have children or grandchildren, do try to make sure they lay those good foundations in their early teenage years so that they have the best headstart in life when it comes to good bone health. If you have any questions about today’s topic, please do get in touch with us either through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, through our social channels, or by tuning in to our livestreams every weekday on Facebook and YouTube.
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