When we consider the need to focus on strengthening our bones and ensuring good bone density, we usually think this is something we don’t really need to worry about until about retirement age, or at least not until we are over 40. But the truth is that it is never too early to start taking steps to ensure good bone health through diet and exercise. And it is certainly worth it, since healthy bones are a great way to reduce the risk of arthritis, osteoporosis and other ailments of the joints or bones.
Most people know that calcium is required for strong bones, but many people don’t know that it is not the only vitamin or mineral that plays an important role in bone health. Most people also don’t know that experts generally consider consuming calcium as part of your diet a better way to get the calcium you need than taking supplements or that milk is just one of many calcium-rich dietary choices.
Vitamins and minerals that are essential for bone health include calcium and vitamin D, as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus and magnesium. It is important to note that this does not mean you should run out and buy supplements to increase your intake of each of these. While phosphorous is needed for healthy bones, most experts agree that the average diet supplies plenty and that supplementation could be a problem. Magnesium is also considered important to bone health; however, the benefits of taking a magnesium supplement for this purpose have not been determined.
The best option for ensuring adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals is to focus on eating a balanced diet that is based on whole grains, leafy greens, colorful vegetables and low-fat dairy products. If you are considering supplementing your diet with over-the-counter vitamins or minerals, speak to your healthcare provider to determine the amount you should take each day.
Exercise is also essential for healthy bones. Low-impact resistance exercises are always a good choice. According to the National Institute of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, walking, dancing, hiking, tennis, jogging and other weight-bearing activities are examples of the best exercises for bone health.
Those who prefer a trip to the pub over a walk down the dairy aisle will be happy to hear that the National Institute of Health has also found that it appears that beer is good for our bones. Studies have shown that beer, consumed in moderation, can actually help strengthen our bones, likely due to its silicon content. While this doesn’t mean you should choose a pint over a tall glass of milk, it’s nice to know that you could actually be improving your bone strength the next time you drink a beer with the folks from the campsite next door.