Why Calcium Isn’t Enough for Strong Bones

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Last updated on February 22nd, 2024 at 08:32 pm

What Is Calcium?

Calcium is vital for maintaining strong bones. Calcium is a major building block of your bones, with the skeleton storing 99 percent of your body’s total calcium. The calcium in your bones also acts as a reserve for the calcium needed by your nervous system and muscles. As you age, your body’s ability to absorb calcium decreases, which is why seniors need more calcium than younger adults. This article will explore the Healthy Bones Tips, so you can build strong bones besides getting enough calcium. 

Foods Rich In Calcium

You can find large amounts of calcium in milk and dairy products, as well as in green vegetables (broccoli, kale, and bok choy), some fruits (oranges, apricots, and dried figs), canned fish with soft and edible bones (sardines, pilchards, and salmon), nuts (especially almonds) and calcium-set tofu.

Manufacturers now add calcium to many foods, fortifying them. Look for products fortified with calcium, such as bread, cereals, fruit juices, soy beverages, and mineral water. The recommended daily intake for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most, but teens need more at 1,300 mg, and older women require 1,200 mg. Maintaining adequate calcium levels is essential, but is calcium all you need for strong bones? Read on to find out what else to do to ensure your bones stay strong and healthy with the Healthy Bones Tips.

 Healthy Bones Tips-Calcium Isn't Enough for Strong Bones

Your bones incorporate minerals throughout your life, until about age 30. By 30 years of age, you have reached your peak bone mass. If you have not created strong bones by this time, you are at an increased risk of developing fragile bones later in life, which could mean more broken and fractured bones.

This is why it is important to start building strong and healthy bones as early as possible. Many nutritional and lifestyle habits can help not only build strong bones but maintain them as you age. 

Healthy Bones Tips

1. Eat Your Veggies

Vegetables are one of the best sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates the production of cells that form bone. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, which might help protect bones from oxidative damage. Vegetables may help increase bone density, which is the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones.

Low bone density leads to osteopenia (low bone mass) and osteoporosis (brittle bones). A major risk factor for osteoporosis is increased bone turnover when your bones break down to form new bones. One study demonstrated that women who ate more than nine servings of broccoli, cabbage, parsley, or other plants rich in antioxidants per week showed lower rates of bone turnover.

Studies have shown that eating high amounts of green and yellow vegetables has been linked to higher bone mineralization in children and bone mass maintenance in young adults. 

Healthy Bones Tips-Healthy diet health foods

2. Perform Weight-Bearing and Strength Exercises

One of the biggest mistakes people make as they age is focusing on cardio exercise and forgetting about strength training. Your bones are reactive, meaning they rebuild in response to their environment. Your bones will only regrow and get stronger if placed under stress. If they aren’t, your body will not direct resources toward building new bones, and your bones will get fragile and brittle.

As one of the Healthy Bones Tips to keep your bones strong, you must perform weight-bearing or high-impact exercise. These types of exercises are crucial in preventing bone loss in older adults and building bone mass in children.

Multiple studies have shown that older adults performing weight-bearing exercises have increased bone mineral density, strength, and size and reduced bone turnover and inflammation. Weight-bearing exercises such as weight lifting and plyometrics. Some exercises also include walking and running. Cycling and swimming are considered non-weight-bearing exercises. 

3. Eat Enough Protein

About 50 percent of your bone is made of protein. Getting enough protein and balancing this intake with plenty of plant foods and enough calcium is important. Low protein consumption decreases calcium absorption and might affect bone formation and breakdown.

Protein is also filling, and increasing your protein intake within recommended levels may promote weight loss and maintenance. Higher protein diets may also preserve bone mass during weight loss. In one longitudinal study of postmenopausal women, higher protein consumption was linked with a lower risk of forearm fractures and a higher bone density in the entire body.

Healthy Bones Tips-Best High Protein Foods

4. Consume Plenty Of Vitamin D & K

One of the Healthy Bones Tips is consuming both vitamin D and vitamin K which are essential for building strong bones. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which stimulates the production of new bone. Studies have shown that individuals with low vitamin D levels usually have lower bone density, putting them at a higher risk for bone loss.

Vitamin D deficiencies are extremely common, affecting about one billion people worldwide. While some people might be able to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through sun exposure and food, others may need to supplement. Insufficient vitamin D levels have been linked to many other health concerns, such as chronic fatigue, depression, and high blood pressure. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, liver, and cheese. 

Vitamin K2 modifies a protein called osteocalcin, which is involved in bone formation. This modification allows osteocalcin to bind to bone minerals and helps prevent bone calcium loss. Sufficient vitamin K2 supports an increase in bone density. One study in women aged 50-65 demonstrated that those who took a vitamin K2 supplement maintained their bone density.

In contrast, those who took a placebo showed a reduction in bone density after 12 months. You can find vitamin K2 in foods such as liver, eggs, meat, and fermented foods like cheese, sauerkraut, and natto. You can also take vitamin K2 supplements.

5. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the Healthy Bones Tips. Low body weight is the main contributing factor to low bone density and bone loss in postmenopausal women. After menopause, some women lose the protective effects of estrogen, making them more susceptible to bone degeneration. Being underweight also increases your risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis.

In those that are obese, bone quality can be impaired, and the risk of fractures is increased due to the stress of excess weight. Cycles of losing and gaining weight are also detrimental to bone mass, as periods of weight loss can contribute to bone loss. If possible, maintaining a healthy weight is the best way to protect your bone health.

Senior Woman with barbell

Calcium is important for strong bones, but many other nutritional and lifestyle habits contribute to healthy bones. Use the tips in this article to help build and maintain strong bones. 

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