Bones are living structures that are constantly regenerated. Here are seven tips to help your bones regenerate and stay healthy.
Regular physical activity helps bones regenerate. Weight-bearing exercises, i.e., those that require your bones to support your weight, like walking, dancing, skating, and ball sports, are best for strengthening your bones.
It’s also a good idea to do activities that strengthen muscles and improve balance, as this reduces your risk of falling and suffering a fracture. Tai chi and yoga are two such activities anyone can do.
EAT A DIET RICH IN CALCIUM
Calcium is an essential element for bone health. You should aim to eat calcium-rich foods on a daily basis. These include:
- milk, yogurt, or cheese
- fortified plant-based beverages (e.g., soy or rice beverage) or orange juice
- fatty fish like salmon or sardines
- dark-green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, kale, spinach)
Up to the age of 50, you should be getting an average of 1,000 mg of calcium a day through your diet. Those over the age of 50, especially women, should aim for 1,200 mg a day.
EAT A DIET RICH IN VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is essential to help your body absorb as much calcium as possible from the foods you eat. According to Health Canada, adults should have a daily intake of about 600 IU of vitamin D (800 IU after the age of 70).
Most of your vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun. If you don’t go outside on a regular basis because of your health or use sunscreen diligently every time you go outside, you should make sure your diet is rich in vitamin D.
In Canada, milk and margarine are required to be fortified with vitamin D. Some other foods are fortified on a voluntary basis, for example plant-based beverages and calcium-fortified juice. Fatty fish and egg yolks are the only natural sources of vitamin D.
A registered dietitian can help you determine whether your diet is sufficiently high in calcium and vitamin D.
LIMIT YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
Too much caffeine in your diet can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Avoid exceeding 400 mg of caffeine a day (approximately two or three cups). Remember that cola-type soft drinks and energy drinks can also contain large amounts of caffeine.
DRINK ALCOHOL IN MODERATION
Alcohol consumption contributes to bone loss. Follow Canada’s recommended guidelines for the consumption of alcoholic beverages:
- Women: no more than 2 drinks per day (maximum 10 per week)
- Men: no more than 3 drinks per day (maximum 15 per week)
Tobacco use speeds up bone loss and increases the risk of fracture. Avoid smoking.
CONSULT YOUR PHARMACIST
If your diet does not satisfy all your vitamin D and calcium requirements, your pharmacist can recommend a supplement that meets your needs.
If you want to quit smoking, talk to your pharmacist. They can recommend smoking cessation aids to help you butt out for good!