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Health tips for strong bones as you age...

14 Feb 2014 4:23 PM - What's holding you up?

Leafy greens for strong bones!

Most of us learn about the importance of calcium for strong healthy bones when you are growing up but other than that we may not give our skeleton much thought.  

Ensuring that my clients are minimising their risk of osteoporosis as they age is just one of the many things I focus on in my naturopathic consultations (especially with my more mature clients).

You may know that osteoporosis, (a loss of bone density resulting in fragile bones) is a risk for falls and fractures as we age but do you do anything to prevent it? 

It is conservatively estimated that 692,000 people (3.4% of total population in Australia) have diagnosed osteoporosis.  The vast majority of these are over 55 years and 80% of them are women. (2011 Aust. Institute of Health and Welfare).

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • being female

  • thin build

  • family history

  • menopause before the age of 45

  • smoking

  • high caffeine intake

  • high alcohol intake

  • physical inactivity

  • low magnesium

  • low vitamin D and more. 

As you can see having sufficient calcium in your diet is really only a small part of the healthy bone equation.

Having healthy bones is not just about preventing osteoporosis

A strong skeleton is important for good posture, freedom of movement and a sense of vitality.  Bones also store minerals and release them into the blood on demand to help maintain critical mineral balances in the blood.  The larger bones also contain bone marrow which is vital for production of blood cells. 

It's never too late to take some action to preserve or improve the quality of your bones.  Just like every other cell in your body, your bones are living tissue which break down and rebuild throughout your life.  Degeneration or loss of bone density occurs when the rate of break down of tissue is greater than the rate at which new tissue is grown.  So it is possible to influence this balance by taking steps to limit the rate of bone loss (which increases as we age).

To improve the health of your bones, consider the following:

  • achieving and maintaining good Vitamin D levels (via safe exposure to sunlight or through a supplement)

  • weight bearing and resistance exercise

  • minimise caffeine and alcohol intake

  • practice exercises which improve your balance

  • minimise soft drink and salt, both of which decrease the availability of calcium

  • don't overdo animal protein in the diet as it can increase calcium losses

  • make sure you are getting enough calcium...sources other than dairy include sardines, salmon with bones, cabbage, dark green leafy vegetables, figs, almonds, sesame seeds and brazil nuts

  • Vitamin K, boron and zinc are also important nutrients for bone health

If you are at all concerned that osteoporosis could be in your future, I encourage you to take action now.  Incorporate the above tips into your diet and lifestyle and make an appointment for a naturopathic consultation.  I can assess your risk factors, evaluate your diet, determine your body composition and develop a plan of attack which will work for you.

In good health,

Kaye Wright
Melbourne CBD

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