Maintaining bone density is crucial for your well-being. When your bones lose density, they become more prone to fractures. To boost your bone health, you need to exercise regularly and follow a balanced diet rich in nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Bone density and aging
Your bones get stronger as you age, but when you’re in your late 20s, you naturally lose more bones than you build. As your bones reach their “peak bone mass,” you stop gaining bone density.
Postmenopausal women have a high risk of developing osteoporosis. This condition weakens bones, making them more susceptible to fractures.
To keep bones strong and lower osteoporosis risk, follow the tips below.
Eat more vegetables
Vegetables are low in calories but rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. According to a study published in The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, vitamin C can help protect bones from damage.
In another study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), researchers found that the consumption of yellow and green vegetables offers significant benefits for most people. Besides promoting bone growth in children, yellow and green vegetables also help adults maintain bone density and strength.
Consume calcium-rich foods throughout the day
Calcium is an essential nutrient needed for optimum bone health. Since your bones break down and grow each day, you need to get enough calcium from your diet.
But instead of eating one high-calcium meal daily, experts recommend consuming small amounts of calcium-rich foods throughout the day.
Superfoods rich in calcium include:
- Canned sardines and salmon (with bones)
- Leafy greens (e.g., kale)
Eat foods high in vitamins D and K
Vitamin K2-rich foods are also needed to maintain healthy bones. Vitamin K2 reduces calcium loss and helps minerals bind to your bones. Food sources of vitamin K2 include cheese, natto and sauerkraut.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. If you suffer from vitamin D deficiency, you are at great risk of losing bone mass. The best way to increase your vitamin D levels is through moderate sun exposure, preferably in the morning before 10 am. (Related: Here’s why you need phosphorus in your diet, a mineral that promotes bone strength.)
Consume foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in maintaining bone density. Eating superfoods like mackerel, nuts, salmon and seeds can help boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re not a fan of these foods, you can take fish oil supplements to get enough omega-3 fats.
Consume foods full of magnesium and zinc
Magnesium also helps activate vitamin D so the latter can promote calcium absorption. Meanwhile, zinc promotes bone growth and helps prevent your bones from breaking down.
Food sources of magnesium and zinc include legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
More about Magnesium Medicine
Consume more protein
Protein is another nutrient needed for strong and healthy bones. In a study published in AJCN, researchers observed 144,000 postmenopausal participants and found that those who consumed more protein experienced an increase in overall bone density. These participants also experienced fewer forearm fractures.
Start weightlifting and strength training
Strength training helps boost bone mineral density and reduce inflammation. Research suggests that both weightlifting and strength training promote new bone growth and help maintain bone structure.
Weightlifting and strength training offer the following benefits:
- Increased bone mineral density
- Increased bone size
- Increased muscle mass
- Protection against bone loss
- Reduced inflammation
Maintain a healthy weight
Being underweight increases your risk of developing bone disease, while being overweight puts additional stress on your bones. Manage your weight and follow a balanced diet to boost bone density.
Avoid a low-calorie diet
Not consuming enough calories may cause health problems, such as bone density loss. Before dieting, make sure your eating plan includes the right balance of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
Smoking is a health hazard that is linked to conditions such as lung cancer and breathing issues.
This bad habit can also cause osteoporosis and increase your risk of bone fractures.
When consumed in moderation, alcohol is unlikely to affect your bone health. But chronic heavy drinking may result in poor calcium absorption.
Drinking heavily can also decrease bone density and increase your risk of osteoporosis later in life. Studies have found that young women who drink heavily in their teens and 20s are at great risk of bone density loss.
To increase your bone density and boost your overall well-being, exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and eat foods rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein.