Diminishing bone density is something we all face as we get older. However, women are at a significantly higher risk than men.
In fact, according to a meta-analysis study published in the Journal of Clinical Medical Research in 2017, women start losing bone at an earlier age and at a faster rate than men.
Women ≥ 50 years of age have a four times higher rate of osteoporosis and a two times higher rate of osteopenia, and they tend to have fractures 5 - 10 years earlier compared with men.
Fortunately, the consequences of osteoporosis can be reversed with a few simple alterations to diet and lifestyle.
Physical activities that put stress on muscles and bones stimulate the formation of new bone cells (osteoblasts). Regardless of age and progression of the condition, bones can increase their strength and rigidity. They just need a reason to do so.
Remember when astronauts had to be hauled away in wheelchairs upon their return to earth? Due to the weightlessness of space, and the absence of gravitational stress on their bodies, their bones had no need to maintain their density.
Thanks to physical rehabilitation ('resistance training' in today's world) and proper nutrition astronauts soon were upright as they quickly recovered to withstand Earth's gravitational pull.
Perform exercises with resistance to stimulate the the process of bone reinforcement (ossification).
Start with manageable resistance (weight) then progress incrementally over time to heavier weight to continue strengthening the bones (and muscles). Barring any physical impairment or disability, ossification of bone can continue throughout life.
• Strength training
• Squats (use chair if necessary)
• High plank (use knees on floor or counter top if necessary)
1. 3 sets of one exercise
2. 10 - 15 repetitions (reps)
3. Rest for two minutes between each set
4. Move to the other exercise
• Brisk walking (the foot impact helps to increase bone density) - up to 4 hours per week
• Tai Chi - also improves balance and coordination
• Hiking (progression from brisk walking)
An important component necessary for maintaining the integrity of bone density is the mineral calcium. Calcium has several functions throughout the body and is literally necessary for life.
99% of calcium is 'stored' in the bones and retrieved at times to sustain other bodily processes (resorption).
If calcium is taken from bone too often (resorption) and at a faster rate than calcium is absorbed then the bone begins to weaken (osteopenia) leading to osteoporosis (severely weakened and brittle bones).
Calcium Requirements & Sources
Men (19 - 70) 1000mg
Women (19 - 50) 1000mg
(51 - 70) 1200mg
Dietary sources of calcium
• Fortified orange juice
In order for calcium to get into the blood and make its way into bone it needs a little help. Vitamin D is required for the absorption of calcium into the body from the intestinal tract. The lack of vitamin D will lead to a calcium deficiency.
Vitamin D Requirements & Sources
Men & Women 600IU;
Men & Women ≥70 years - 800IU
There are 3 sources of vitamin D
1. Sunlight: approximately 15-20 minutes per week - amount depends on time of year, latitude, air quality, skin tone (lighter skin requires less time) and sunscreen with SPF ≥ 8.
• Soy milk
• Egg yolks
• D2 (ergocalciferol)
• D3 (cholecalciferol)
Strong bones are crucial to limiting serious injuries during old age. Strive to improve and maintain bone density to promote better quality of life.
Active Bodies are Healthy Bodies