Build Your Best Bones

A healthy diet, herbs and plenty of exercise can keep your bones strong.

| January/February 2006

Throughout your life, the 206 bones that form the living skeleton of your body are in a continual state of buildup and breakdown. Like a well-stocked refrigerator, where food is added and consumed, so it is with bones. In terms of bone health, problems occur when more food is removed than is added. This translates to a decrease in bone mass and bone density, leading to porous and fragile bones — a condition known as osteoporosis. The National Institutes of Health considers osteoporosis a major public health threat.

Boning Up on Bone Health

Roughly 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. Eighty percent of those afflicted are women aged 50 and older. An additional 34 million Americans may have low bone mass, a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Despite the statistics, older women aren’t the only ones who need to be concerned. The time to start building your bones (stocking the refrigerator) begins when you’re young — the better stocked your bones are, the less chance you have of running low in your senior years. Most of us reach our maximum bone density and strength (peak bone mass) between the ages of 25 and 30. After that, we may lose up to 1 percent of our bone mass every year.

Ideally, we should reach our optimal bone mass in early life and retain it throughout adulthood to have optimal bone health in our later years. And making sure we get adequate calcium throughout childhood and adolescence is crucial to achieving an optimal peak bone mass. But even if the critical bone-building years have passed, you still can improve the quality of your bones no matter your age.

Spotlight on Calcium

In regard to bone health, calcium (a main mineral in bones) has been the center of attention. In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture research suggests that 70 percent of women don’t get anywhere near the calcium they need. Inadequate intake of calcium is one piece of the puzzle, but the deficit also can be attributed to dietary factors that inhibit its absorption: a diet high in animal protein, salt, sugar or phosphorus (found in cola drinks), as well as too much caffeine or alcohol.

“Aging and stress also decrease calcium absorption,” says Mark Izzo, Ph.D., a biochemist and the CEO of Ideal You, a company that manufactures an all-natural, calorie-free sweetener. “Your blood needs a certain amount of calcium every day, and if you don’t supply it through the diet, your body will steal it from your bones.”

5/15/2014 7:59:00 AM

Calcium is a very important mineral, especially for elder people that start having bone problems like osteoporosis. My friend noticed her mother received calcium supplements when she visited her at the senior center and he nurse suggested her to also use them because taking such supplements delays the natural bone loss.

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