5 Ways To Boost Your Bone Strength

It is important to build strong bones before you get to a certain age, especially if you are a woman. While aging is associated with a normal loss of bone density, there are many preventable factors to consider. Here are a few tips you can follow to boost your bone health.

1. Increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D

Calcium plays a primary role in boosting bone strength, by building it and slowing down bone loss. But you also need to get enough vitamin D, the nutrient responsible for transporting the calcium.

For a healthy adult, the daily recommended calcium intake is 1,000 milligrams while those over the age of 50 should aim for 1,200 milligrams. While most people link vitamin D to sun exposure, it can also be found in milk, fortified breakfast cereals, and eggs.

2. Don't just walk, take up strength exercises

While more and more people are taking up aerobic activity, studies showed strength exercises are not being prioritized enough. An activity like walking could improve heart health, but can't singlehandedly strengthen your muscles and bones.

Strengthening activities like tennis, dancing, jumping rope, hiking, stair climbing and training with weights are what can help in boosting muscle and bone health.

3. Maintain a healthy body weight

Studies have shown bone health may suffer when one is underweight and even when one is overweight. It is known underweight individuals, particularly women, are prone to poor bone mineral density. In fact, even the act of losing weight during middle age is linked to an impact on bone density.

In a study of obese adolescents, researchers found their excess fat triggered inflammation which contributed toward the weakening of the bones. Furthermore, levels of the growth hormone (which plays an important role in bone health) were measured and found to be lower in the obese adolescents.

4. Quit smoking

Smoking can accelerate the rate of bone loss, especially in adolescents and postmenopausal women. 

"Nicotine and toxins in cigarettes affect bone health from many angles," noted Dr. Primal Kaur, an osteoporosis specialist at Temple University Health System in Philadelphia. "Research also suggests that smoking impedes the hormone calcitonin, which helps build bones — so that hormone can't do its job."

But if you are a smoker, there is a silver lining. In their tobacco-free initiative, the World Health Organization noted this risk was lower in former smokers, which means it is never too late to quit the habit. 

5. Make sure you are getting enough shuteye

Poor sleep can have damaging effects on various parts of your body, and that includes your bones. Adults should generally aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night. One study found bone was broken down more than it was replaced in participants who only slept for a little over five-and-a-half hours.

"This altered bone balance creates a potential bone loss window that could lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures," said lead investigator Dr. Christine Swanson, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado.