It’s Bone and Joint Health Action Week

by Kimberly Vanderpoel on October 12th, 2017

Bone Health for Life: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family

Why Does Bone Health Matter?

Our bones support us and allow us to move. They protect our brain, heart, and other organs from injury. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

There are many things we can do to keep our bones healthy and strong. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, getting plenty of exercise, and having good health habits help keep our bones healthy.

But if we don’t eat right and don’t get enough of the right kinds of exercise, our bones can become weak and even break. Broken bones (called fractures) can be painful and sometimes need surgery to heal. They can also cause long-lasting health problems.

But the good news is that it is never too late to take care of your bones.

What Can I Do to Make My Bones Healthier?

It is never too early or too late to take care of your bones. The following steps can help you improve your bone health:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, and foods and drinks with added calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and milk with vitamin D. Some people may need to take nutritional supplements in order to get enough calcium and vitamin D. The charts below show how much calcium and vitamin D you need each day. Fruits and vegetables also contribute other nutrients that are important for bone health.

Sources of Calcium

  • Tofu (calcium fortified)
  • Soy milk (calcium fortified)
  • Green leafy vegetables (e.g., broccoli, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, kale)
  • Chinese cabbage or bok choy
  • Beans/legumes
  • Tortillas
  • Sardines/salmon with edible bones
  • Shrimp
  • Orange juice (calcium fortified)
  • Pizza
  • Bread
  • Nuts/almonds
  • Dairy products (e.g., milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Get plenty of physical activity. Like muscles, bones become stronger with exercise. The best exercises for healthy bones are strength-building and weight-bearing, like walking, climbing stairs, lifting weights, and dancing. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Don’t smoke, and, if you choose to drink alcohol, don’t drink too much.
  • Talk to your doctor about your bone health. Go over your risk factors with your doctor and ask if you should get a bone density test. If you need it, your doctor can order medicine to help prevent bone loss and reduce your chances of breaking a bone.
  • Prevent falls. Falling down can cause a bone to break, especially in someone with osteoporosis. But most falls can be prevented. Check your home for dangers like loose rugs and poor lighting. Have your vision checked. Increase your balance and strength by walking every day and taking classes like Tai Chi, yoga, or dancing.

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