Healthy Bones

Natural Healing

| September/October 2003

  • Exercise stimulates bones, causing them to grow stronger.

Are the following statements true or false?

• You needn’t worry about osteoporosis until you’re in your fifties.
• Calcium is the only nutrient important to bone health.
• Dairy products offer the best source of calcium.
• As long as you drink caffeine-free sodas, such beverages aren’t bad for your bones.

False. False. False. False.
Osteoporosis, which means “porous bone,” is a major public health concern, a silent epidemic. About 40 percent of postmenopausal Caucasian women (the group at highest risk) suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis during their lifetime.

Bone Basics
Bones are dynamic. In the body’s continual biological sculpture, bone is added and removed. Several hormones, exercise and the availability of building blocks such as calcium determine whether bone is gained or lost. Osteoporosis results when the rate of bone loss exceeds bone growth.

Two factors determine an adult’s bone health at any age: (1) maximum bone mass; and (2) the rate of bone loss with advancing age. Bone mass peaks in adolescence, and bone loss can begin in your early thirties. Think of bone as money in the bank: The more you have when you’re young, the less your chances of running out in old age. Women at greatest risk for osteoporosis are those who did not attain a normal peak bone mass by the age of 20.

Although you can’t relive those prime bone-building teenage years, you can do a lot to hang on to what you’ve got. What’s bad for bones? Smoking, sedentary lifestyle and excessive intake of phosphorus, salt, caffeine and alcohol. Factors beneficial for bones are sound nutrition and exercise.

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