You may not realize it, but our bones are actually made up of living, growing tissue. Every day new bone is added to replace old bone. But as we get older, we start to lose more than we gain. This may lead to low bone density and, over time, may develop into osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis, literally “porous bones,” can lead to debilitating fractures and extensive medical care. In fact, it is estimated that the annual medical costs of osteoporosis and fractures among U.S. elderly patients is upwards of $16 billion.
“When bone density decreases, the likelihood of small stress fractures increases,” said Bill Hemmer, DC. “This may lead to bone pain, bone weakening, larger bone fractures, and degenerating changes in posture.”
According to Dr. Hemmer, maintaining healthy bones has aesthetic benefits and can contribute to improved longevity and function.
“I always look at treating patients through the filter of ‘How can they look better, feel better, and live longer?’” he said. “I hope their health span will equal their lifespan.”
Keeping your bones as strong and healthy as possible is part of a healthy lifestyle. The good news is that there are a number of ways you can help keep your bones healthy.
Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises are important for building and maintaining bone mass.
“In my practice, I see a lot of women who are very worried about bone health and bone weakening,” said Dr. Hemmer. “They need exercise in order to put stress on their skeletal structure to help maintain good bone density.”
Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises are important for building and maintaining bone mass. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, running, stair climbing, and jumping rope compel you to move against gravity. Muscle-strengthening exercises, like weight lifting and body-weight training, require resistance against gravity. Always work closely with a health care practitioner and consider any limitations you may have when starting an exercise regimen.
One factor in improving bone health that you may not have considered is adequate sleep.
“I tell my patients to get six to eight hours of sleep,” Dr. Hemmer said. “Bone regeneration occurs during sleep as a result of the secretion of growth hormones.” Studies have found that sleep loss associated with obstructive sleep apnea may indirectly increase the risk of low bone mass and fracture.
3. Limit Alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption may affect bone health in many ways. Alcohol disrupts the absorption of calcium by hindering the production of vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones. Heavy drinking and alcoholism may also cause hormonal deficiencies in men and women. For men, less testosterone is linked to low production of the cells that stimulate bone formation. In women, habitual alcohol use may lead to irregular menstrual cycles, which may cause reduced estrogen levels. Aging women should be careful because the decrease in estrogen that also occurs after menopause may cause accelerated bone loss.
4. Eat Healthy
Nutrition is a key factor in the prevention and treatment of low bone density and osteoporosis. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D from sources such as dairy, nuts, leafy greens, and fish may help build strong, dense bones. An adequate supply of vitamin D is required for the body to absorb calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral, but our bodies cannot produce it. That’s why we need to consume calcium in the foods we eat.
5. Take Nutritional Supplements
Nutrition is a key factor in the prevention and treatment of low bone density and osteoporosis. But many Americans do not include enough nutrient-rich foods in their diets to protect bone health. This is why nutritional supplements are so important.
Bone Health Daily Fundamentals packs provide convenient maintenance nutritional support to keep bones strong and healthy.* Each box contains a 30-day supply of individual packs that include four Standard Process products: Calcifood®, Cataplex® D, Cruciferous Complete™, and Ostrophin PMG®.*
In his practice, Dr. Hemmer has encountered patients who question why they need to take so many different supplements.
“I ask them, ‘Would you eat steak every day for the rest of your life?’” Dr. Hemmer said. “There is not one food or one supplement in the world that has everything you need. We have to find that combination of nutrients and herbs that unlock your combination to health.”*