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How to improve bone health

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Bones serve several essential functions in the body, including storing minerals, protecting organs, providing structure, and producing blood cells. As we get older, our bodies begin to lose bone mass, which is harder to replace. For this reason, bone health is imperative.

Maintaining good bone health is important to support daily function and prevent musculoskeletal conditions. What are some things that can be done to improve bone health?

Nutrition

Nutritional choices significantly affect bone health, as bone formation continuously needs a supply of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D to maintain its structure. The inadequate intake of nutrients increases the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. 

Calcium

Calcium is one of the most critical nutrients in bone formation, and 99% of it is situated in the skeleton of the body.1 Calcium is not made in our bodies but acquired through diet. Studies have shown that sufficient calcium intake has been associated with maximizing bone mass and preventing bone loss later in life.1 Good sources of calcium includes dairy products, green leafy vegetables.

Magnesium

Magnesium intake contributes to bone quality, and insufficient consumption may affect bone growth, bone fragility, bone development, and bone absorption.1 In addition to this, magnesium indirectly works with parathyroid hormone and vitamin D in the body to eliminate inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to bone loss.2 Magnesium has also been linked to influencing the body’s internal buffer system preventing it from going into a low-grade acidosis state. Metabolic acidosis has been associated with osteoporosis and depletion of calcium from bones.4 Magnesium-rich foods include dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, and legumes.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone health because it increases the absorption of calcium, leading to stronger, healthier bones.1 Vitamin D is also an essential nutrient for bone mineralization, which is the process of laying down minerals within the fibrous matrix. This process takes place throughout our lives and is vital to bone health. Additionally, incorporating vitamin D through your diet can minimize the prevalence of fractures which disturbs the strength and structure of the bone.3 Some good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, and salmon.5

Physical Activity 

Physical activities such as walking, or gymnastics provide the most significant stimulus for bone formation through osteoblast activity. Osteoblast cells are responsible for synthesizing new bone and remodelling; without them, our bones would be fragile and easily broken. Engaging in regular physical activity has been correlated with achieving peak bone mass, which in turn leads to improved bone health.6 Increased bone density and bone formation decreases the chances of being diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Bone health is essential for daily function and becomes increasingly important as we age. By maximizing bone health during the early stages of life, you can lower your chances of developing osteoporosis or potential fractures. Incorporating adequate calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D in your diet can help to support bone structure, function, and stability. Additionally, integrating a weight-bearing workout into your daily life can also support bone strength in conjunction with the proper nutrients. Bone deterioration typically occurs over a long period and should not be overlooked.

References

1. Palacios C. The Role of Nutrients in Bone Health, from A to Z. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2006;46:621-628.

2. Rondanelli M, Faliva MA, Tartara A, et al. An update on magnesium and bone health. Biometals. 2021;34:715-736.

3. Laird E, Ward M, McSorley E, Strain JJ, Wallace J. Vitamin D and bone health: potential mechanisms. Nutrients. 2010;2:693-724.

4. Castiglioni S, Cazzaniga A, Albisetti W, Maier JAM. Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Nutrients. 2013;5:3022-3033.

5. Draper M, Harris ST, Leder B, Shoback D. Vitamin D, Calcium, and Bone Health. The journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2009;94:0-0.

6.Branca F, Vatueña S. Calcium, physical activity and bone health – building bones for stronger future. Public Health nutrition. 2001;4:117-123.

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