When you were younger, your parents may have coaxed you to “drink your milk, so you can grow big and strong.” As we age, we tend to forget that our bones still need to be kept strong and healthy. It’s important to make sure you are getting the right nutrients to make sure you don’t lose bone strength. If we lose bone strength, it can lead to osteoporosis which can result in serious breaks in places like the wrist, hip, and spine. However, there are several steps you can take to keep your bones strong and healthy at any age.
From 10-20 years old
During this time, we can take several steps to increase our peak bone mass, such as eating a calcium-rich diet and doing regular weight-bearing exercises. While genes largely determine the peak mass from the actual size and structure of the skeleton, by doing these things, we can also influence whether we reach our full potential. It’s important during this period that you get around 1300 mg of calcium a day or the equivalent of one glass of orange juice with calcium, 2 glasses of milk, or 1 cup of yogurt. It’s also important to exercise regularly.
From 25 to 30 years old
Most of us hit our peak bone mass during this time, which is why it’s so important to make healthy choices during this time. Unhealthy habits like smoking, poor nutrition, inactivity, and excessive alcohol intake can stop us from reaching our peak potential. It’s important to continue to focus on good nutrition and exercise while limiting bad habits.
Those between 20 and 30 years of age should continue getting at least 1000 mg of calcium per day and adding a vitamin D supplement. For exercise, it’s recommended you do at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing activity four days a week with two of the days focusing on muscle strengthening.
From 30 to 50 years old
We often start to lose bone mass from 30-50 years of age. It’s simply because as you age, your body usually isn’t getting enough nutrients to keep up the remodeling process your body does by strengthening your bones. By the time you reach 40, your body is no longer able to replace all the lost bone mass. It’s important to continue to get enough vitamin D and calcium every day and maintain a normal workout regimen. The recommended calcium dosage is still 1000 mg per day.
Over 50 years old
Once you’re over 50 years of age, the recommendations for calcium change for women while remaining the same for men. It’s suggested that women now get at least 1200 mg of calcium a day. This is because menopause often leads to rapid bone loss. In the first 10 years, women can lose up to 40% of their inner bone mass and 10% of their outer bone mass. If you are experiencing the menopause symptoms, it may be time to get a bone density test and talk with your doctor about steps you can take.
Over 70 years old
Once you are 70 years old, the calcium recommendations for both men and women increase to 1200 mg of calcium and at least 800 IU of Vitamin D. At this age both genders are susceptible to low bone mass, fractures, and increased falls. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what you can do.
The general consensus is that at any age, it is important to get enough vitamin D, calcium, and exercise regularly to keep your bone mass as high as possible.
Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics, Centennial Medical Center in the Physician’s Park Building 2400 Patterson Street Suite 300, Nashville, Tn 37203 (615) 342-6300 Hughston.com and Orthopaedic Specialists, 415 Henslee Drive in the Creekside Center, Dickson, Tn 37055 (615) 375-8287, Orthopaedicspecialists.com.