Bone health depends on multiple factors—including our diet, levels of physical activity and your lifestyle. Did you know that our bones are continuously changing? The bones we gain during our childhood and adolescence is due to a process of “modelling,” where a new bone forms on one end while it is removed from another. Then comes the “remodelling” where most of the bone is removed and made at the same place. This gains bone mass for an individual. Up to the age of about 30, a person’s body makes new bone faster than the old bone breaks down. This is also a reason why the bone mass increases. However, even though after the age of 30 the bone modelling continues, the speed of breakdown is higher—and consistently gets higher as the person gets older—than the formation of new bone. This is the age when a person’s bone mass peaks.
Factors that affect bone health
CalciumIf our diet doesn’t have enough calcium, we tend to have decreased bone density, increasing the chances of fractures, and overall bone loss. Our bones need calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones, not just in the prime of a person, but also when they get older. For calcium absorption, our body needs adequate amount of Vitamin D.
ActivityStudies have proven that high-intensity physical exercise, especially impact sports have, help in gaining overall bone minerals; especially physical activity undertaken during childhood and adolescence. In fact, some of this bone mass is carried on into adulthood as well. People who exercise regularly in adulthood have reduced risk of osteoporosis.
Age, Gender and SizeAs we get older, our bones get thinner and weaker, but if we are extremely thin with a body mass index of 19 or less, we might have lesser bone mass; this is also true for those with small body frames. Apart from that men have more bone tissue than women, which is why women run a higher risk of osteoporosis, especially as they age.
Medicines, substance abuse and hormonesThere are mixed reviews about certain types of drugs affecting bone health, but research backs the notion that tobacco use weakens bones. Apart from that fluctuating hormones are also a culprit. Malfunctioning thyroid affects bone growth in both genders. Falling estrogen levels at menopause result in women losing bone loss. Low testosterone may result in loss of bone mass in men.
Eating disorders and other conditionsThen there are the medical conditions that have an effect on bone health as well. People suffering from anorexia or bulimia run the risk of bone loss. Crohn's disease, Celiac disease and Cushing's disease affects the way body absorbs calcium, which could result in bone loss. Apart from that, people who have undergone stomach surgery (gastrectomy), weight-loss surgery also are at risk of bone loss.
How to keep your bones healthy:It’s not difficult to take care of your bones. Even though bone loss as you age is inevitable, you can slow down the process by doing the following: Calcium should be an integral part of your diet. Dairy products—milk, cheese, curd, yoghurt—and nuts such as almonds and walnuts are good sources of calcium. In vegetables, broccoli and kale provide calcium. Apart from these, sardines and canned salmon in seafood, and for vegans soy products such as tofu, provide calcium required. If you are unable to include any of these items, please consult your doctor for a calcium supplement. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption in the body. Oily fish such as tuna and sardines, and egg yolks, are good sources of Vitamin D. For vegetarians fortified milk is the way to go. Human body produces vitamin D with the help of sunlight, so go get soak in some son. However, if you think you are deficient, please ask your doctor for supplements. Exercise every day. A bit of regular physical activity in your daily routine, especially weight bearing exercises can help build stronger bones, and slows down bone loss. Visit your doctor. If you are still concerned about the health of your bones, or you are at a risk of osteoporosis, or have had a recent fracture, please consult an orthopedician, who might recommend a bone density test. This test helps the doctor evaluate your bone health and suggest medication or treatment accordingly.