A person's structure is maintained by her bones. They play many vital roles in the body, such as protecting organs, maintaining muscles and storing calcium. It is important to build bone health from childhood. Once an individual steps into adulthood, bone health is often neglected and it can lead to major health issues.
Old bones break and new bones replace them. The process of replacement is quick in young people, and it slows with age. The bone mass is at its peak when an individual is around 30. After that, the bone mass one loses is more than the bone mass one gains. Here are a few measures that can be used to increase bone health and maintain overall health in old age.
Plenty of vitamin d
Vitamin D plays a vital role in improving bone health and helps the body absorb calcium. Research shows that adults with low vitamin D levels tend to have lower bone density and are more prone to the risk of bone loss than individuals who get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common. One can get vitamin D through exposure to the sun and food supplements such as cheese, liver and fatty fish. It is recommended that an individual gets at least five to ten minutes of sun exposure two to three days a week on the hands, legs and face. It helps the body absorb the required vitamin D.
Keep the body active
The key to keeping the bones strong is keeping the body active. Walking, jogging, running, and climbing staircases help build strong bones and maintain the body. These exercises help the body resist gravity and stimulate the growth of bone cells. Exercises that are focused on strengthening muscles help increase bone strength. Working out for at least 30 minutes a day can help strengthen bones and prevent most orthopaedic ailments.
Maintain healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy and stable weight, and lifestyle, is not easy. But having a balanced diet rich in nutritious food, and maintaining a healthy weight can help strengthen bones. One should neither be underweight nor overweight, as both could lead to problems related to bones and joints.
An underweight individual is prone to osteopenia or osteoporosis. And an overweight individual is at a higher risk of fractures due to excess weight. Any kind of drastic weight-loss or weight-gain diet or exercise contributes to losing bone mass.
Eating food rich in vitamin C, protein and calcium helps maintain bone strength. Vitamin C can stimulate the production of bone-forming cells, and as it is rich in antioxidants, it even protects the bone cells from damage. Protein-rich food and vegetables are very important for bone health. Low protein intake can reduce the absorption of calcium in the bone, which would affect bone formation, and high protein intake will lead to acidity in the blood. The right amount of protein should be consumed, as prescribed by the doctor.
The main mineral required for bone health is calcium. Calcium helps in protecting the bone structure and maintaining strength. It is important to include calcium-rich food in the diet, as it helps in replacing old bone cells with new ones faster.
It is important to motivate oneself, have a healthy diet and exercise regularly, especially in old age. Keeping oneself active and flexible is very important. It is widely seen that after retirement people feel lazy or tired. Yoga, meditation and walk can help relax the mind and keep the body active. Consulting a doctor for a bone density scan is recommended, just to rule out osteoporosis. With the help of this test, doctors can evaluate the risk factors and assess the medications.
Author is senior orthopaedic consultant, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bengaluru.