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picture of milkOsteoporosis, which is a condition of brittle bones, affects 44 million Americans. It is estimated that over 50% of the women over 50 and 25% of the men over 50 years of age will break a bone because of osteoporosis. There are some factors that lead to osteoporosis that cannot be prevented such as a decrease of bone density with age and heredity, but other risk factors can be minimized with some attention to lifestyle and habits. Some of those habits are quitting smoking, controlling alcohol and taking steps to make the bones health as strong as possible.
Starting off the tips to stronger bones is choosing low-fat dairy. Using 1% or skim milk, lower fat cheeses and low fat yogurt you get excellent sources of calcium. By using these low fat versions the same amount of calcium and minerals are provided but less fat and calories are taken in. Dark green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals and sardines are other sources of calcium.
Vitamin D is needed for your body to absorb calcium. You do get Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun. At some latitudes, people that are house bound or those that use sunscreen are going to have more trouble getting the needed Vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in some food like fatty fish, so asking your health care professional about supplements may be necessary.
A recent study shows that prunes may be helpful for slowing bone loss. Starting with two or three prunes each day and gradually increasing this to six or more per day may be beneficial.
Finally walking and lifting weights are both ways to strengthen the bones. Walking helps strengthen the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine. Weight lifting focuses more on building muscle and bones in your arms and upper spine. Work towards at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Keeping your bones strong is important in the aging process. Work on incorporating these habits into your day!

Source: Keep your Bones Strong, Health Smart, Jan. 2012.
Author: Liz Smith, FCS Educator, Ohio State University Extension

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