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A Bare-Bones Look At Bone Health

Contrary to what you might think, there is more to supporting healthy bones than drinking milk. While calcium is an essential nutrient for your bones, it is by no means the only nutrient your bones need.

Your bones are made up of living tissues that are continually breaking down and building up. This process, called remodeling, occurs throughout your lifetime. When you are young, bone buildup outpaces bone breakdown until you reach peak bone mass between 25-35 years of age, depending on your genes and gender. Once you reach peak bone mass, bone breakdown begins to surpass bone buildup.

That is why it is essential to develop healthy eating and exercise habits during childhood and adolescence. Research suggests that you can reduce your risk of bone disease by achieving a higher peak bone mass.In addition to whole-food sources of nutrients that support bone health, like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, zinc and dietary protein, lifestyle factors also play a critical role in the health of your bones.

Exercising, avoiding tobacco products and limiting the amount of alcohol you consume can help you maintain healthy bones. Your bones, like your muscles, will strengthen with exercise. Bones need specific types of exercise – weight-bearing exercise and resistance (or strength) training – to maintain and build density. Weight-bearing exercises are exercises that require your bones to support your body’s weight. For example, when you jog or walk, your legs are bearing the weight of your body. Resistance or strength training involves using weight or resistance to build strength.

Research has shown that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures, particularly for postmenopausal women who have a high risk for bone disease.Smoking and alcohol may be linked to increased loss of bone. Researchers have linked smoking to an increase in fractures and hypothesize that for some women, smoking may interact with estrogen in a way that could reduce intestinal calcium absorption.

While moderate alcohol consumption has not been linked to osteoporosis, studies have shown that consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day may decrease bone formation and reduce your body’s ability to absorb calcium. To learn more about bone health and bone disease prevention, talk to your doctor. The good news is that you can prevent bone disease with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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