Ensuring bone health
Posted on 1 December 2015
Consistently looking after your bones from childhood to old age can help avoid complications. Here’s how to keep your bones healthy.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends a healthy daily calcium intake, as well as sufficient vitamin D, which helps calcium absorption. Regular age-appropriate exercise is also recommended.
‘Bone mass increases until reaching a peak in the late 20s and early 30s,’ says Dr David Gotlieb, a rheumatologist at Mediclinic Constantiaberg. He offers the following tips for ensuring bone health during this critical stage:
• It’s important to get the appropriate intake of calcium and adequate levels of vitamin D by some sun exposure and oral intake.
• Weight-bearing exercises are recommended, but over-exercise can be counter-productive. A walking programme of 4-5km a day five days a week is advised.
• Eat a balanced diet that includes protein and milk products. Limit alcohol and caffeine and avoid smoking.
• Any chronic illnesses must be treated appropriately, and caution is required if medication that can impact bone health is used. This especially relates to anticonvulsants and corticosteroid drugs.
For women in their 40s and 50s experiencing menopause, increased calcium intake may be recommended – consult your gynae. After the age of 70, fall prevention becomes more and more critical as bones are more brittle and can break easily.
Nutrition for maximising bone health
Dr Gotlieb has the following advice:
• The best foods to eat include milk products, cheese, yoghurts, and adequate protein. Protein energy malnutrition is associated with muscle weakness, risk of falling, hypogonadism and osteoporosis.
• Some foods impair calcium absorption – these include high intakes of fibre phytate (often found in whole grains and beans) and oxalate supplements.
• In cases of lactose intolerance, adequate calcium supplementation at night is recommended.