Looking after our bones from childhood right through to our twilight years - Naturopath and Nutritionist, Daniel Roytas
We’re used to thinking that bone health only affects us in later life. However, it’s important to be conscious of our bones from a young age, because peak mineral bone density for men and women occurs between the ages of 25 and 35[i].
Once our bones have reached their peak density, it slowly begins to decline with age[ii].It is believed that a 10 percent increase in bone mineral density during adolescence could delay the development of osteoporosis (a disease known characterised by bone fragility and fractures) by 13 years[iii].
It’s not just bone fractures that pose a health risk, 95% of people who have osteoporosis have at least one co-existing disease[iv], the most common are arthrosis and arthritis. Research also shows an association between heart failure and osteoporosis[v].
There is good evidence to suggest that dietary and lifestyle therapies and specific types of exercise can improve bone mineral density. Here are some top tips to support bone health.
- Do weight bearing exercise. This strengthens the muscles and allows better support for the skeleton. Bones become stronger when a certain amount of strain is placed on them, and is particularly important for women to focus on during menopause
- Eat foods that maintain bone health. Dairy products have been proposed as a good way to get a lot of calcium in your diet. Many non-dairy sources are also high in calcium, including nuts and seeds and calcium-fortified orange juice. Potassium is another important nutrient as it’s one of the major components of the bone: eat avocados, bananas, potatoes, green leafy vegetables and fish.
- There are also ‘accessory foods’ you can eat which have been shown to have direct effects on either inhibiting osteoclast activity (breaking down the bone) or stimulating osteoblast activity (building it up): blueberries and plums, citrus fruits, onion and alfalfa sprouts.
Consider support with supplements (following advice from a qualified healthcare professional)
- Calcium and vitamin D. When it comes to supplements, everybody knows about the importance of calcium and vitamin D for bone health – but they must be taken together. If you have insufficient levels of either calcium or vitamin D and you just take one or the other, there’s a negligible effect on increasing bone mineral density.
- Getting a big bout of vitamin D from healthy sun exposure is probably more beneficial than taking a vitamin D supplement. In Australia that involves about 15% of the body being exposed to the sun (outside the hours of 10am to 3pm) three times a week for less than 10 minutes.
For more information on key nutrients for healthy bones for life download the Expert Voice podcast featuring Naturopath Daniel Roytas on your preferred listening app such as Apple Podcasts.
The Expert Voice podcast series is designed to help natural healthcare practitioners remain at the cutting edge of the ever-evolving nutritional therapies industry. The series covers topics across lifestyle and nutrition, stress and toxicity, healthy ageing, gut health, mental health, and more. It focuses on the role of nutritional supplementation in helping both healthcare professionals and consumers on the journey to achieving and maintaining good health.
[i] Davies JH, Evans BAJ, Gregory JW. Bone mass acquisition in healthy children. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2005;90:373-378.
[ii] Demontiero, Oddom et al. “Aging and bone loss: new insights for the clinician.” Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease vol. 4,2 (2012): 61-76. doi:10.1177/1759720X11430858
[iii] Santos L, Elliott-Sale KJ, Sale C. Exercise and bone health across the lifespan. Biogerontology. 2017;18(6):931–946. doi:10.1007/s10522-017-9732-6
[iv] Puthet al. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (2018) 19:144 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-018-2060-4
[v] Farhat GN, Cauley JA. The link between osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2008;5(1):19–34.