Though bone loss or osteoporosis is seen mostly among the elderly above 50 years of age, you should start taking precautions when you are young. Your age, genes, gender, body weight, medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or nutrient malabsorption, lifestyle habits like excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, and lack of calcium and vitamin D are all causes of bone loss. For example, postmenopausal women are often more at risk of osteoporosis due to low estrogen levels than men or women in their 20s or early 30s when the bones are at their sturdiest. This, however, does not mean men or younger women don’t experience bone loss.1 If you any of these health conditions or lifestyle factors apply to you, take precautions now.
1. Add More Calcium In Diet
Calcium is a mineral essential to building bones and keeping them healthy. Women experience increased bone loss in the years that immediately follow menopause though bone loss continues to old age.
Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods like yogurt, sardines, kale, broccoli, and bok choy to keep the bone mineral density or BMD at its optimum. Calcium supplementation has also been suggested as a way to keep bones healthy.2
2. Get More Vitamin D/Estrogen
Many studies have shown that taking calcium alone does not help.3 Especially if your body doesn’t have enough vitamin D to absorb calcium from the intestine.4 Evidence suggests calcium supplementation along with vitamin D supplementation can prevent osteoporosis in women above the age of 50.5
Considering it is the depletion of estrogen that accounts for bone loss in most postmenopausal women, calcium supplementation with low-dosage estrogen therapy help reduce bone loss.6 Needless to say, this method is applicable only to postmenopausal women.
3. Have More Iron, Zinc, And Magnesium
Calcium is not the only mineral responsible for bone mineral density or bone strength. Studies have shown minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium are equally essential for bone health.7
- Seafood, red meat, beans, and dark green vegetables are rich in iron.
- Spinach, beef, shrimp, and various beans and seeds are zinc-rich foods.
- Magnesium is available through foods like whole grains, dry fruits, and chocolate.
After 35 years of age, make sure you add these foods regularly in your diet just so bones stay healthy and strong even after you grow old.
4. Try Ipriflavone Isoflavone, A Soy Product
Touted as a magic remedy for preventing bone loss, ipriflavone isoflavone, a crystalline compound synthesized from soy is found to hold great promise in preventing osteoporosis caused by a variety of factors like chronic steroid use to immobility and ovariectomy (removal of ovary/ies). Not just that, it is found to be useful in treating other bone complications from conditions like Paget’s disease of the bone, hyperparathyroidism, and tinnitus caused by the abnormal growth of bone near the middle ear (otosclerosis).8
Many studies have shown a daily intake of 600 mg ipriflavone is effective.9
5. Have Soy Foods
Numerous studies have been done on the effect of soy products, soy foods, and its derivatives on preventing bone loss with each one confirming that there is nothing like soy products when it comes to bone health.10 This is especially true in the case of women because studies have shown that the fracture risk in women who take soy food is much lesser than in those who don’t. There is a positive effect of soy food on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, too. Adding soy foods to the daily diet, therefore, is a must especially if you are a woman.
6. Do Weight-Bearing Exercise
While diet is important in preventing bone loss, the effect of regular exercise cannot be emphasized enough.11 Not just any exercise but weight-bearing exercises particularly work on bone health and bone mineral density. High-impact weight-bearing exercises like dancing, jogging, running, tennis, aerobics, and climbing are very effective in building bone health.12
Having said that, in case you have osteoporosis already or have a history of fracture from it, you can do weight-bearing exercises but of low impact. These include walking on a treadmill, using elliptical training machines, and low-impact aerobics. Additionally, you should also do muscle-building exercises like lifting weights and using elastic exercise bands.
7. Stop Drinking Cola And Coffee
Drinking cola and coffee is said to be harmful to bone health and can lead to osteoporosis.13 While it is still unclear why these drinks reduce bone density while others don’t, caffeine in both cola and coffee could be the culprit.14 That also explains why while cola is bad for bone density, other soft drinks are not. Another possible reason is the phosphoric acid in cola that can leach calcium out of bones.
8. Quit Smoking
Cigarette smoking affects estrogen circulation in the body, a reason women smokers hit menopause earlier than nonsmokers. The depletion of estrogen is also why smoking is considered a cause of bone loss.15
9. Cut Down On Alcohol
Heavy, chronic alcohol consumption is bad for bone health and can increase bone loss among postmenopausal women. Interestingly, however, moderate drinking among postmenopausal women can benefit bone density and health. One large study found that women aged 65 and over who consumed alcohol on more than 5 days per week had a significantly reduced risk of vertebral deformity compared with those who consumed alcohol less than once per week.16
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the quality of life. Avoid it as long as possible so you can live a long, fulfilling life.
|↑2||Reid, Ian R., Ruth W. Ames, Margaret C. Evans, Gregory D. Gamble, and Susan J. Sharpe. “Long-term effects of calcium supplementation on bone loss and fractures in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial.” The American journal of medicine 98, no. 4 (1995): 331-335.|
|↑3||Riis, Bente, Karsten Thomsen, and Claus Christiansen. “Does calcium supplementation prevent postmenopausal bone loss? A double-blind, controlled clinical study.” The New England journal of medicine 316, no. 4 (1987): 173-177.|
|↑4||Christakos, Sylvia, Puneet Dhawan, Angela Porta, Leila J. Mady, and Tanya Seth. “Vitamin D and intestinal calcium absorption.” Molecular and cellular endocrinology 347, no. 1 (2011): 25-29.|
|↑5||Tang, Benjamin MP, Guy D. Eslick, Caryl Nowson, Caroline Smith, and Alan Bensoussan. “Use of calcium or calcium in combination with vitamin D supplementation to prevent fractures and bone loss in people aged 50 years and older: a meta-analysis.” The Lancet 370, no. 9588 (2007): 657-666.|
|↑6||Ettinger, Bruce, HARRY K. Genant, and CHRISTOPHER E. Cann. “Postmenopausal bone loss is prevented by treatment with low-dosage estrogen with calcium.” Ann Intern Med 106, no. 1 (1987): 40-45.|
|↑7||Angus, R. M., P. N. Sambrook, N. A. Pocock, and J. A. Eisman. “Dietary intake and bone mineral density.” Bone and mineral 4, no. 3 (1988): 265-277.|
|↑8||Head, K. A. “Ipriflavone: an important bone-building isoflavone.” Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic 4, no. 1 (1999): 10-22.|
|↑9||Brown, S. E. “Ipriflavone–Osteoporosis Education Project Analysis.” Chiesi Farmaceutici SpA (2000).|
|↑10||Lanou, Amy J. “Soy foods: are they useful for optimal bone health?.” Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease 3, no. 6 (2011): 293-300.|
|↑11||Aloia, JOHN F., STANTON H. Cohn, John A. Ostuni, R. O. D. O. L. F. O. Cane, and Kenneth Ellis. “Prevention of involutional bone loss by exercise.” Ann Intern Med 89, no. 3 (1978): 356-358.|
|↑12||Osteoporosis Exercise For Strong Bones. NOF.|
|↑13||Tucker, Katherine L., Kyoko Morita, Ning Qiao, Marian T. Hannan, L. Adrienne Cupples, and Douglas P. Kiel. “Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 84, no. 4 (2006): 936-942.|
|↑14||Sodas, Tea And Coffee: Which Can Make Your Bones Brittle?. Health essentials. Cleveland clinic.|
|↑15||Jensen, Jytte, Claus Christiansen, and Paul Rødbro. “Cigarette smoking, serum estrogens, and bone loss during hormone-replacement therapy early after menopause.” New England Journal of Medicine 313, no. 16 (1985): 973-975.|
|↑16||Sampson, H. Wayne. “Alcohol and other factors affecting osteoporosis risk in women.” Alcohol Research and Health 26, no. 4 (2002): 292-298.|