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Improve Bone Density and Build Strong Bones

laughing elderly woman The importance of taking action to improve bone density was brought to my attention by a request from a reader of this site. While this isn’t concerned with weight loss, building strong bones is such an important issue that affects the health of millions, that I decided to write a special article about it.

Why should you read this article?

The reason is that by doing so you may reduce the risk of unnecessary bone fractures in your future. Millions of people around the world suffer from Osteoporosis and other related issues. Osteoporosis is a condition that’s also known as porous bones. This is a condition that usually strikes more women than men and is more common as you get older.

The reason porous bones occur is that, as you get on in years, you begin to lose bone density and the strength of your bones decreases. This can lead you to walk stooped and to be at greater risk of suffering from fractures. To reduce the risk of this happening to you, you can take a number of preventative measures such as exercising properly and following a sound eating plan. It is important to note that if you already have Osteoporosis that you require other measures. In any case, consult with your doctor before undertaking any exercise routine.

Nutrition to increase bone Density

There are a number of guidelines that you need to follow in order to maintain healthy bones and improve bone density. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation you need to consume a good amount of calcium and vitamin D in your regular diet. While most people make the connection between calcium and bones as it’s widely known that calcium is part of what bones are made of, the connection with Vitamin D is less clear.

To make this connection clear you must first understand that your bones are a living thing and they change all the time. They’re not just static objects. Calcium can be brought into the bones or it can be taken out of them by your body.

Calcium is needed by the body for a variety of other functions other than bone formation. When you don’t get enough calcium, your body turns to your bones and gets it from them. This leads to lower bone density. Vitamin D is important because it is crucial for the proper absorption of calcium into your body. Without this vitamin, you’re not going to be able to put Calcium to as good a use as you need to.

So, calcium and Vitamin D are the two most important nutritional factors in maintain strong bones. Where do I get these two elements?

Calcium is the easier part as it’s found in a large variety of food sources:

  • Dairy products
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Okra
  • Tofu
  • White beans
  • Navy beans
  • Oranges

And many others. It is also possible to take calcium supplements when required.

According to an article on WebMD, green leafy vegetables like Kale have additional benefits for bone density as they contain Vitamin K and other substances which are important for healthy bone formation.

Vitamin D can be consumed or it can be produced by the body through direct exposure to sunlight. Food sources of Vitamin D include:

  • Whole eggs
  • Cod liver
  • Salmon
  • Fortified dairy products
  • Beef liver
  • Tuna

However, sunlight exposure is the most effective way (short of supplementation) of getting enough Vitamin D. Needless to say, exposing yourself to the sun has its own risks as is commonly known. The good news is that a short exposure is likely to be all you need to give your body the daily dose of Vitamin D that it requires. For more on the bad effects of a lack of this vitamin visit Vitamin D Deficiency symptoms.

It is also recommended that you get enough protein as part of your diet. A good dose of magnesium is also important and can be found in apples, almonds, bananas, and green leafy vegetables like kale (for more on this veggie read the benefits of Kale).

Bone Density Exercise

Exercise is vitally important to maintain proper bone density. I don’t care how young you are, the time to start regular exercise is now. The steps you take now will influence the strength of your bones for years to come.

Although it may seem odd, to strengthen your bones you need to put pressure on them. It’s as if you’re challenging them to be as strong as they need to be to handle the stress that you’re putting on them.

This is why load bearing exercises, those that place stress on your bones are very important to improve bone density. Again, this is for prevention. If you already have osteoporosis, you need to consult with your doctor about these issues.

Load bearing exercises include weight lifting routines, body weight strength exercises, and a variety of cardio workouts such as walking, running, dancing, aerobic step classes and so on. Studies have shown that these workouts may improve bone density.

Swimming and cycling are less likely to be as effective as they don’t stress the bones in the same way. A recumbent bike at the gym may be more effective than outdoor cycling, provided that you can place a good deal of resistance in that machine.

Exercise at least three times a week. It’s not just important to burn the fat, but also to increase bone density.

In Conclusion

The time to take action to improve bone density and build stronger bones is now. Don’t wait until your bones have weakened. Take the steps needed to improve your health, your body and your life. Use the exercise tips and the nutrition guidelines above to create a more healthy routine for yourself for long term health benefits, stronger bones, less fractures, and a greater quality of life.

Date published: July 30, 2010. Last modified: September 19, 2011

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