Bones are the body’s foundation, providing support, structure and protection to organs.
Looking after your bones and joints are important to keep them strong and healthy. This will reduce aches and pains, as well as your risk of fractures and osteoporosis (brittle bones). Strong bones and joints are key to leading long, healthy, active and independent lives.
Healthy Bones Action Week (17 – 23 August) urges Australians of all ages to take the three actions for building and maintaining healthy bones:
1. Increase daily serves of calcium through milk, cheese or yoghurt;
2. Go for a walk or commit to some new form of regular exercise, including weight-bearing activities;
3. Spend time outdoors to get more vitamin D.
Want to do more to help your bones, naturally? Here are 10 tips to build up strength over time.
1. Eat Lots of Vegetables
Vegetables are great for your bones.
They’re one of the best sources of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of bone-forming protein (collagen synthesis). In addition, some studies suggest that vitamin C’s antioxidant effects may protect bone cells from damage.
2. Perform Strength Training and Weight-Bearing Exercises
Engaging in specific types of exercise can help you build and maintain strong bones. One of the best types of activity for bone health is weight-bearing or high-impact exercise, which promotes the formation of new bone.
3. Consume Enough Protein
Getting enough protein is important for healthy bones. In fact, about 50% of bone is made of protein. Researchers have reported that low protein intake decreases calcium absorption and may also affect rates of bone formation and breakdown.
4. Eat High-Calcium Foods Throughout the Day
Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health, and it’s the main mineral found in your bones. Because old bone cells are constantly broken down and replaced by new ones, it’s important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength.
5. Get Plenty of Vitamin D and Vitamin K
Vitamin D and vitamin K are important for building strong bones. Vitamin D plays several roles in bone health, including helping your body absorb calcium. Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. This modification enables osteocalcin to bind to minerals in bones and helps prevent the loss of calcium from bones.
6. Avoid Very Low-Calorie Diets
Dropping calories too low is never a good idea. In addition to slowing down your metabolism, creating rebound hunger and causing muscle mass loss, it can also be harmful to bone health.
7. Consider Taking a Collagen Supplement
Whilst research is ongoing, early evidence suggests that collagen supplements may help protect bone health. Collagen is the main protein found in bones. It contains the amino acids glycine, proline and lysine, which help build bone, muscle, ligaments and other tissues.
8. Maintain a Stable, Healthy Weight
In addition to eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight can help support bone health, and reduce overloading on hips and knee joints. Even a 5% weight reduction, for those overweight, can reduce the significant risk of joint replacement later in life.
9. Include Foods High in Magnesium and Zinc
Calcium isn’t the only mineral that’s important for bone health. Several others also play a role, including magnesium and zinc. Magnesium plays a key role in converting vitamin D into the active form that promotes calcium absorption. Zinc is a trace mineral needed in very small amounts. It helps make up the mineral portion of your bones.
10. Consume Foods High in Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their anti-inflammatory effects. They’ve also been shown to help protect against bone loss during the ageing process.