As the name of this post states, good bone health is something that we all want. If you don’t, you should. Here’s why: our bones help to keep us upright, allow us to move, and protect our vital organs. So what can we do to keep them strong and healthy? Please note ladies, that we are at a higher risk for osteoporosis (our bones becoming porous and weak, prone to fractures), so bone health is important. Here’s how you can look after your bones:
- Make sure you take in enough calcium: An adult needs 1000 mg a day up until 50 years of age, after which women need 1200 mg. Men need 1200 mg from 70 years of age. When you don’t take in enough calcium over a period of time, your body takes it from your bones. Calcium keeps our bones strong.
- Eat 3 servings of dairy: 1 serving = 200 ml/ 7 fl oz milk (or calcium enriched soy milk), 125 ml/4.2 fl oz carton of yoghurt, 25 g/0.8 oz/matchbox size cheese (hard and semi soft cheese), 50 g/1.8 oz soft cheese, 2 processed cheese triangles, 75 g/2.65 oz cottage cheese
- If you don’t eat dairy: Make sure that your dairy substitute is enriched with calcium. You will also find calcium in dark green veggies like broccoli, spinach and kale, and in almonds, as well as canned fish with edible bones like salmon. You can also take a supplement.
- Get enough vitamin D: It helps your body absorb calcium. In countries where it’s sunny and warm, it’s easy to get some vitamin D by spending a few minutes in the sun, (although sunblock does block hamper vitamin D production. If you aren’t going to be out in the sun any longer than 10-15 minutes, hold the sunblock). Otherwise you can get vitamin D from oily fish, fish oils, and egg yolks. A lot of foods are also fortified with vitamin D, you can find it in milk, cereals, and some fruit juices.
- Exercise: Not only does exercise improve your blood circulation (and yes, your skeleton does need to receive blood), but weight bearing exercise actually help to build your bones. As a protective mechanism, special bone cells build new layers of bone where there is repeated strain, making them stronger. Any exercise such as walking, jogging, running, climbing stairs, jumping, and aerobic workouts that incorporate these or similar actions will start this process.
Just some extra info on bones that may interest you. Aside from doing all the functions mentioned in the introduction, I was absolutely fascinated to discover they do so much more:
- Electrolyte balance: Electrolytes perform various functions in our body. Our skeleton has a large store of these electrolytes- calcium and phosphate ions. Calcium helps with blood clotting, maintaining a normal heart rate, and muscle contractions. Phosphorus also helps with maintaining a normal heart rate and muscle contractions, but also helps with nerve signalling (our brain telling our bodies what to do), and kidney function.
- pH balance: pH balance is very important in the body. If our pH isn’t right, our bodies don’t function at their best and we can get sick. Bone tissue releases and absorbs alkaline salts – calcium phosphate, in order to buffer the blood against excessive pH changes.
- Our skeletons help with blood formation: The red bone marrow in our bones create red and white blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies, and white blood cells are part of our immune system protecting us against infections and illness.
Finding this out really made me appreciate my bones even more. Take care of yourselves and your bones 🙂