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Keeping Your Bones Strong and Healthy as You Age

April 29, 2019

"Statistics show that as a result of osteoporosis, 50% of women over the age of 50 will break a bone."

In today’s live show with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD holistic nutritionist, we’re talking about bone density. We’ll get to know more about bone density and bone health as we age and what you need to know. You’ll learn what it means to have low bone density, and the health issues that it could cause, as well as some great natural foods and at-home movements that you can do to help ensure that your bones stay super strong, dense, and healthy as you age.

Video Highlights.

  • 2:12: Role of bones
  • 5:00: What is osteoporosis?
  • 8:07: Some statistics
  • 13:20: Causes and contributors of low bone density of osteoporosis
  • 15:13: Lifestyle choices
  • 23:33: High impact exercises
  • 24:41: Low impact Exercises
  • 25:51: Organic anti-oxidant green smoothie recipe
  • 28:50: Wrap up

Role of Bones

Bones obviously play major roles in our bodies.

  • They provide the structure that allows us to stand
  • They protect all of our vital organs and anchor our muscles and our ligaments down
  • Bones store essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. In fact bones contain roughly 99% of the calcium and 85% of the phosphorus that is stored in your body. Other minerals stored in our bones include magnesium and fluoride

Bones are continuously changing throughout the course of our lives. The human body has 206 bones, with the smallest bone being the stapes, located in the inner ear. The longest bone in the body is the femur that runs from the hip bone to the knee bone.

Babies are born with 300 bones which then fuse together as they grow. Your body is constantly making new bone and breaking down old bone. When we are young, mostly in our childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, our bodies make bones faster than they break them down. We hit our peak bone mass around age 30, at which point the bones start breaking down faster than new bones are made. As this happens, bones become less dense and more brittle with age.

What is Osteoporosis?

This condition of losing bone and breaking it down faster than it rebuilds is called osteoporosis. This is a common condition with an estimated 54 million Americans either diagnosed with the condition or having low enough bone density to be at risk for developing it.

Some statistics

Osteoporosis is responsible for an estimated two million broken bones each year. Other causes of broken bones have to do with dangerous sports such as bull riding, horseback riding, cheerleading, gymnastics, football, and other high-impact activities.

Statistics show that as a result of osteoporosis, 50% of women over the age of 50 will break a bone. For men over the age of 50, the percentage is 25%.

Causes and contributors of low bone density of osteoporosis

  • Age
  • Gender – Women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men. This is because women generally have less bone tissue than men.
  • Hormone levels – Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically after menopause due to the decline in estrogen levels. Men also experience higher risk as testosterone levels decline as they age.

There are other factors, primarily lifestyle choices, that contribute to low bone density as well. These are things that you can control including diet, exercise, and stress management. Some of the factors we have some control over include include:

Lifestyle tips

Let’s talk about what we can do to ensure that our bones stay healthy and strong, no matter what age we are:

Include plenty of calcium in your diet

For adults, ages 19 to 50, and men ages 51 to 70, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 1,000 mg of calcium every day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg every day for women after the age of 50 and for men after the age of 70. Because dairy contributes to inflammation in the body, we recommend using dairy-free sources of calcium such as fortified almond milk, broccoli, almonds, avocados, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and kale.

Getting the required amount of calcium from non dairy sources is much easier than you might think. Keep reading for a green, vegan, superfood smoothie recipe that has twice as much calcium as an 8 oz. glass of cow’s milk.

Get plenty of Vitamin D with Vitamin K

These vitamins are extremely important for building strong bones. The body needs vitamin D in order to absorb the calcium. For adults, 19 to 70, the RDA of vitamin D is around 600 IUs daily for regular maintenance, but a growing body of research is saying that 5,000 IUs is the daily dose recommended to combat bone density loss and to correct a vitamin D deficiency.

You can get vitamin D by spending 20 minutes in the sun every day, and you can get small amounts from oily fish such as salmon. For most of us, it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food or sunshine alone, so you also need a good plant-based vitamin D supplement  and make sure it comes with vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. This modification enables osteocalcin to bind to minerals in bones and helps to prevent the loss of calcium from bones. The formula that Dr. Nancy takes is Smarter Vitamin D.

Get enough Magnesium

Calcium isn’t the only mineral that’s important for bone health. Magnesium is another important mineral required for supporting strong, healthy bones. It plays an imperative role in converting the vitamin D from food into an active form that promotes calcium absorption. In fact, women who consume 400 mg of magnesium per day tend to have 3% higher bone density than women who consume half that amount according to some studies. You can get magnesium from dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, quinoa, bananas, nuts, seeds and chickpeas, and you can also add a high-quality seawater-based Magnesium supplement like Smarter Magnesium to your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc

These have been found to promote the formation of new bone and protect against bone loss in older adults. Dr. Nancy's go-to recommendations for omega-3 and zinc include sprouted beans, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds, as well as a high-quality Omega 3 supplement like Smarter Nutrition's Omega 3.

Physical activity

In addition to making sure that you’re providing your bones with specific good nutrients needed to stay healthy, it’s also absolutely imperative that you include physical activity in your daily routine. For best results, this should include weight-bearing and muscle-building exercises. These activities can be high-impact or low-impact exercises, but the key is to participate in regular body movement. Consistency is crucial.

High-impact exercises

High-impact exercises that help you build strong bones and slow bone loss include:

  • Dancing
  • High impact aerobics like jogging and running on grass or the beach
  • Jump roping
  • Stair climbing

Low-impact exercises

Low-impact exercises that help you build strong bones and slow the bone loss might include:

Organic antioxidant green smoothie recipe

The idea that we need milk to get enough Calcium is actually a myth. In fact, research has found over and over again that cow’s milk and dairy leaches the calcium out of your bones. It’s acidic to the body and does not help build your bone density. An eight-ounce serving of this organic high-calcium antioxidant green smoothie contains around 520 mg of calcium compared to 290 mg in an eight-ounce glass of milk.

To make this smoothie, you’ll need the following:

  • A blender 
  • 1 cup of plant-based milk alternative, such as almond milk or flax milk
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup kale
  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 banana

Blend that well, and enjoy 520 mg of absorbable calcium that is anti-inflammatory and will not irritate the stomach lining as milk often does. 

Wrap-Up

Having weak bones is nothing to be taken lightly. Bone density tests and scans are very fast and effective, and they help you determine how much bone density you've lost. Know your numbers and the quantifiable progression of your numbers. Low bone density and osteoporosis is a real problem, affecting nearly 55 million people. As we age, the body can start breaking down bone faster than it can build, causing our bones to become weak, brittle, and break much more easily. In fact, 50% of women and 25% of men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to low bone density or osteoporosis at some point.

Participating in bone-building exercise and getting nutrients from the right sources can help you prevent these things from happening to you. 

In addition to gender and aging, several lifestyle habits including a healthy diet, managing stress levels, limiting exposure to toxins, lowering inflammation, and physical activity often determine how healthy and strong our bones are. To make sure that you’re doing everything that you can to ensure that you are maintaining proper bone density, we recommend including plenty of plant-based sources of calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D with vitamin K in your diet, taking a quality food-based multivitamin, and participating in high- and low-impact exercises designed to strengthen your bones and keep your muscles strong and flexible.

Remember to take a plant-based vitamin D to continue to help build those strong bones, and make sure to try out the high calcium, antioxidant-rich green smoothie we recommended here. This is a super great way to load up on your calcium, vitamins, and omega-3s, and keep your bones strong and healthy.

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