1. Make up for age-related bone loss
“Women reach their peak bone mass by age 30, and then your bones do something called remodeling, where you replace your whole skeleton every seven years,” says Dr. Sirius. “Also, your estrogen levels drop off naturally after menopause, which depletes your skeleton of calcium and further contributes to bone loss.” To maintain your bones, postmenopausal women need 1,200 mg of calcium daily (compared to 1,000 mg for premenopausal women). The best food sources are low-fat dairy (think: yogurt, milk, cheese), but other sources include leafy greens, sardines, and fortified cereals and juices. If you think you’re falling short of your goal, take a 500 mg calcium supplement to fill the gap.
2. Get enough D
Vitamin D is also essential for healthy bones because it helps your skeleton remodel and promotes calcium absorption, but more than half of all adults may not be getting enough, according to the National Institutes of Health. “You should get 600 IUs a day up to age 50. Healthy postmenopausal women should aim for a 800 IUs a day, but if you have a bone problem we recommend between 1,000 and 2,000 to ensure that you’re not falling short,” says Dr. Sirius. Your body makes vitamin D on its own when sunlight touches your skin, but you can also get it through food and supplements. Some good sources of vitamin D include:
• Cod liver oil, 1 Tbsp, 1,360 IUs
• Salmon, 3 ounces, 447 IUs
• Canned tuna, 3 ounces, 154 IUs
• Fat-free vitamin-D fortified milk, 1 cup, 124 IUs
• Egg with the yolk (that’s where vitamin D is), 1 large, 44 IUs
• Yogurt fortified with vitamin D, 6 ounces, 88 IUs
• Sun exposure, 15 minutes on half your body, about 20,000 IUs depending on cloud coverage and skin tone
3. Cut back on caffeine
“Some research has linked high doses of coffee to increased risk of hip fractures in older women,” says Keri M. Gans, MS, RD, CDN and author of The Small Change Diet. So how much caffeine is too much? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends having no more than 300 mg a day, or the amount in about two or three 8-ounce cups of coffee. Even if you’re not a java lover, you may unknowingly get caffeine from sneaky sources: sports drinks, supplements, and even certain medications can also pack a caffeine punch.
4. Just say “ohm”
Starting a daily yoga practice could be a relaxing way to protect your skeleton. According to a pilot study in Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, patients suffering from bone loss who did 10 minutes of yoga daily for two years increased bone density in their hips and spines, while the non-yogis in the control group had continued bone loss. Moreover, yoga can improve your balance and therefore cut your risk of falls—and broken bones! If you have weak bones, skip the power kind, such as ashtanga, and go for gentler yin or restorative yoga classes instead.
5. Enjoy a glass of vino—but don’t go overboard
“Alcohol can negatively impact bone health, and we think it might be linked to its toxicity on the bone-forming cells,” says Dr. Sirius. While Dr. Sirius says having a glass or two a night won’t impact bone health, over-imbibing is a big problem in America. In fact, more than 38 million people binge drink an average of four times a month, according to a CDC report. While binge drinking is most common in 18 to 34-year-olds, those 65 and older do it most often. For women, binge drinking means having four or more drinks.
6. Don’t break a leg (or an arm!)
Half of the arm breaks treated in ERs are for proximal humerus fractures, or injuries near the top of the bone, that are often linked to falls—and the highest number of these breaks have been seen in men and women age 45 and older, according to a study in Arthritis Care & Research. Compared to men, women are more than twice as likely to have this type of break—probably because they are also more prone to osteoporosis.
A loss of bone density makes you more susceptible to breaks, and we lose bone density as we age. So it may not be a surprise that the number of people visiting the ER for a broken arm is estimated to rise by nearly a third by 2030, when the youngest Baby Boomer will turn 65. There are plenty of things you can do to help prevent bone-shattering accidents, including practicing important home safety measures such as clearing clutter that could cause you to trip and installing night lights to make it easier to see after dark. “Preventing falls is key for warding off broken bones. Unless you’re being chased by a burglar, take your time and be mindful of your surroundings—there is no need to rush,” says Dr. Sirius.
7. Mind your meds
Many commonly prescribed drugs can impact bone density—steroids, such as for rheumatoid arthritis or asthma; proton pump inhibitors taken for stomach and digestion issues; and SSRIs used to treat depression, to name a few. Ask your doctor whether any new medications can affect your bone health, and he or she can develop a game plan for counteracting any bone-thinning effects.
8. Get a density test
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that only 30 percent of women in their mid-60s had undergone a bone scan—and thus, wouldn’t even know if they were at risk for osteoporosis. If you’re in your 50s or 60s and broke a bone during a fall, it could be a red flag that you have thin bones and should get tested. If you don’t have any risk factures, such as a previously broken bone, then you can delay getting a bone density test until 65, says Dr. Sirius. All women, regardless of whether they’ve broken a bone, should get tested at 65.
9. Skip the skinny look
“Being overly thin or having an eating disorder is a problem for your bones because you may be depriving them of protein,” says Dr. Sirius. “If you’re constantly dieting to be excessively thin, you’re weakening your bones and putting yourself at greater risk for osteoporosis.” Speak to your doctor if you’re struggling to keep on pounds, and if you suspect you have an eating disorder, check out The National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc.
10. Eat like a Greek
Omega-3s and monounsaturated fats are good for our hearts, but might they also strengthen our spines? Researchers from Athens, Greece, studied the diets of 220 Greek women and found that those who followed key components of the Mediterranean diet— they ate plenty of fish and olive oil and minimal red meat—had the greatest bone density.
To eat like the Greeks, try replacing your regular fats and oils with 8 to 10 teaspoons of olive oil per day, incorporate 2 or 3 servings of fish (2 to 3 ounces each) per week, and limit weekly red meat consumption to 1 to 3 ounces (or 1 serving).
11. Kick the butt habit
Yet another reason to throw out your cigarettes: Nicotine and free radicals may harm your body’s bone-making cells known as osteoblasts, and smoking ups your risk of fractures, according to researchers at Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia. The good news is that it’s never too late to quit. It only took one year of being smoke-free for postmenopausal women to score improved bone density compared with women who kept puffing, according to a study in the Journal of Women’s Health.
12. Pump it up
Exercise is good for whittling your waist, and it also helps strengthen your skeleton. Case in point: Athletes across all sports (especially weight-lifting, gymnastics, and soccer) have a 13 percent higher bone density than non-athletes, according to a study by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. You don’t have to be an Olympic qualifier to reap exercise’s bone-building benefits. “Moderate exercise, such as lifting weights or brisk walking, can help counteract age-related bone loss to some degree, but it more importantly strengthens your muscles to improve balance and keep you as strong as possible to lower your chances of a fall-related fracture,” says Dr. Sirius. If you can’t fit in a 30-minute workout every day, try doing three 10-minute sessions.
Source: Health Prevention