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As we grow older, our risk of falling—and suffering a debilitating injury—increases. One key component to minimize the risk: Keep your bones as strong as possible. As the years creep on, the body’s natural ability to replenish and rebuild bone mass diminishes. Although you can’t avoid losing bone mass completely, you can slow down the rate considerably. Here, five ways to do just that:
Calcium is imperative for bone health. It’s recommended that men over age 18 and women between the ages of 18 and 50 get 1,000 mg of calcium daily—about the amount in three glasses of nonfat milk or calcium-fortified orange juice. Women over 50 should aim for 1,200 to 1,500 mg. See the sidebar here for foods that are rich in calcium. If your diet is low in these foods, talk to your doctor about supplements.
Exercise builds more than muscle—it’s a great way to strengthen bones. Weight-bearing activities are those that require you to be on your feet and your body to support your weight; walking, jogging, aerobics, tennis, weight training and even gardening and dancing put stress on your bones, which stimulates them to rebuild themselves. But before you start, talk to your physician.
Research shows that the more cigarettes you puff and the longer you smoke, the greater your chances of fracture. Kicking the habit appears to reduce your risk of low bone mass. Need another reason? A smoker’s broken bone often takes longer to heal than a nonsmoker’s.
Downing seven alcoholic drinks a week can increase your risk of low bone density, and if you drink even more, your likelihood of bone loss and fracture go up. Too much caffeine has also been shown to contribute to weakening bones, so try to keep your coffee count to about 24 ounces (roughly two mugs or size “small” coffees) daily.
Long-term use of glucocorticoids (aka hydrocortisone or cortisol) for arthritis, asthma and other conditions can lead to bone loss and increase fracture risk. If you’re taking these, or any of the medications listed here, talk to your doctor about setting up a bone-building plan. At the same time, it might be smart to ask about medications designed to help build bone mass.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for a loved one, please call us at 1-800-675-0391.