WE don’t really think much about our skeleton unless we break a bone.

We tend to think that our bones are static and once they are formed the job is done. In fact, bone is a living tissue that is constantly being renewed and rebuilt.

There are two different types of bone cells that do this job: osteoclasts break down old bones and osteoblasts make new bones.

During childhood and adolescence, our bodies do a good job of building new bones, increasing bone density and strength. When we are in our mid to late twenties, we have reached our maximum bone strength, known as the peak bone mass.

With increasing age, the aging process leads to increased bone loss. This means that we begin to lose bone density and strength, which makes the bones more prone to fractures.

But it’s not all bad news. What you eat, drink, exercise, and take care of yourself can have positive effects on your bone health for a lifetime.

OSTEOPOROSIS

Our risk of osteoporosis increases with age. Osteoporosis, also known as “bone fragility,” is more likely to affect women than men and is often discovered after menopause because changes in hormone levels increase the risk of bone fractures. This is because osteoclasts and osteoblasts are affected by estrogen and progesterone.

Although not as common, osteoporosis can affect men too. This is often secondary to another health problem due to the decreased testosterone.

Are you at risk

There is a genetic link to osteoporosis so having a family history may increase your risk of developing the condition. Other risk factors are:

  • Certain medications
  • Inflammatory diseases, hormone-related diseases, or malabsorption problems
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Be underweight
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Smoking and alcohol

MORE THAN JUST CALCIUM

Many of us remember being force-fed milk as children to build strong and healthy bones, with an emphasis on the high calcium content of milk. While dairy products are an important source of calcium, our bones need a wide variety of nutrients to keep them healthy and build strength.

Although calcium is the most abundant mineral in bones, osteoporosis is much more than a lack of dietary calcium. Take a good quality dietary supplement with you and you will likely find these important nutrients in the ingredients list.

calcium is an important building block for healthy bones. Good sources are dark leafy vegetables (kale, arugula, watercress), almonds, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, chia seeds, sesame and tahini, sardines and canned salmon (for their edible bones), edamame beans, and tofu.

magnesium – Even a slight magnesium deficiency is a risk factor for the development of the disease. We find magnesium in dark chocolate, avocados, almonds, legumes, tofu, seeds, whole grains, and leafy vegetables

phosphorus is an important building material for bones. Foods rich in phosphorus include pork, cod, salmon, and tuna.

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, supports the absorption of calcium into the bones. Vitamin D can be found in oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and fresh tuna, egg yolks, liver, and cheese. That said, it’s hard to get a decent dose from food, and it’s worth getting your vitamin D tested so you can supplement it appropriately. Visit vitamindtest.org.uk

boron helps vitamin D and calcium work together.

vitamin C forms a collagen matrix to strengthen bones and muscles. The best food source for collagen is bone broth. Vitamin C also helps support collagen production, and you can find vitamin C in all types of fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, peppers, kiwi, strawberries, and citrus fruits like oranges.

zinc helps to form new bone cells. Good sources of zinc are beef, shrimp, spinach, flaxseed, oysters, and pumpkin seeds. Vitamin K2 helps prevent the loss of calcium from the bones. Found in small amounts in liver, eggs and meat as well as in fermented foods such as cheese and sauerkraut.

BONE REMOVER

Some habits can adversely affect bone density.

  • Eat too much white sugar
  • Drink too much coffee, alcohol, and carbonated drinks
  • A very high protein diet
  • Eating too few fruits and vegetables
  • Very low calorie diet