Keeping Your Bones Strong and Healthy as You Age
"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.
- 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 old bone down. When we are young, mostly in our childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, our bodies make bones faster than it breaks 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 down faster than it’s rebuilding 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 osteoporosis.
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 sports.
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
- Gender – Women are at greater risk of osteoporosis than men. This is because women actually 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 dropping of the estrogen level and low testosterone levels in men
There are other factors, primarily lifestyle choices, that contribute to low bone density as well. These are things that you can control by diet, exercise, stress management and making healthy choices. We can prevent them, we can reverse them, and we can protect ourselves from them. These factors include:
- Tobacco use
- Excessive alcohol
- Environment toxins
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 dietary allowance is 1000 mg of calcium a day. This is set by the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The recommendation increases to 1200 milligrams a 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. Consume calcium through organic plant-based sources like fortified almond milk, broccoli, almonds, avocados, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and kale.
Getting the required amount of calcium from your 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 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, but a growing body of research is saying that 5,000 IUs is the recommended daily dosage for you to actually really combat bone density loss and to really feel the difference of depletion in vitamin D.
Ar good source of vitamin D includes 20 minutes of sunshine a day and oily fish such as salmon. But sometimes it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food or sunshine alone, so you also need a good plant-based vitamin D supplement. Stick with plant-based and what you’ll need is 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 combined with vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. This modification enables osteocalcin to bind two minerals in bones and helps to prevent the loss of calcium from bones. The formula that I recommend and I take daily is Smarter Vitamin D by Smarter Nutrition.
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 a really imperative role in converting the vitamin D 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. You can get magnesium from dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, quinoa, bananas, nuts, seeds and chickpeas.
Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc
These have been found to promote the formation of new bone and protect bone against loss in older adults. My go-to recommendation for omega-3 and zinc include sprouted beans, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds.
In addition to making sure that you’re providing your bones with specific good nutrients needed to stay strong and healthy, it’s also absolutely 100% imperative that you include physical activity in your daily routine. And not just any physical activity; it needs to be weight-bearing and muscle-building exercises. These activities can be high impact or low impact exercises but the key is to participate in regular exercises. You have got to be consistent and do it often.
High impact exercises
High impact exercises that help you build strong bones and slow the bone loss include:
- 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:
- Simple body weight exercises such as chair squats
- Single leg stands
- Wall pushups
- Resistance band training
Organic antioxidant green smoothie recipe
You don’t need milk to get enough calcium. That is a very old tale. 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. With this organic high calcium antioxidant green smoothie, an eight-ounce serving contains around 520 mg of calcium compared to 290 mg in an eight-ounce glass of milk that could possibly be irritating to your digestive system (most people are intolerant of cow’s milk and dairy.)
To make this smoothie, you’ll need the following:
- A blender or nutribullet
- 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 lining of your stomach. It’s just wonderful.
Having weak bones is nothing to be taken lightly: you need to have your bone density measured. Bone density tests and scans are very fast and effective, and they help you see what percentage your bones have lost or not. 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, since 99% of calcium is stored in our bones, and this causes 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.
Hip fracture is the number one thing that people over the age of 50 break. But research done in a senior care facility in China found that out of 500 occupants, they had zero hip fractures, falls, or bone breaks each year. What they found was that all of these Chinese seniors were doing tai chi, and they were doing bone-building exercises and improving functional movement. The second reason is that most of the seniors there did not drink dairy.
In addition to gender and aging, several lifestyle choices including diet, stress level, exposure to toxins, inflammation, and the amount of 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 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, as well as participating in high and low impact exercises designed to strengthen your bones and keep your muscles strong and flexible.
Remember your vitamin D to continue to help build those strong bones. Make sure that you try out the high calcium, antioxidant-rich green smoothie a try. This is a super great way to load up on your calcium, vitamins, and omega-3s, and keep your bones strong and healthy.