Healthy bones are a necessity for a full and active lifestyle. Although we depend on our bones everyday for physical support and consider them strong and rigid structures, bones are actually living tissue, growing and changing on a regular basis. Along with the calcium that gives them their strength, bones are also made up of a collagen protein that gives them flexibility but also makes them susceptible to weakening and injury.
Bone health is directly affected by lifestyle choices. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle helps to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. While some factors that increase the risk of bone loss cannot be altered, such as gender, age, body build, and the ingestion of life-sustaining medications, others can be managed to help protect bone integrity. In order to maintain bone health, the following steps are recommended:
- Regular exercise
- Proper nutrition
- Adequate calcium and vitamin D consumption
- Avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol use
- Avoidance, where possible,of certain medications
- Treat eating disorders promptly
Anything that keeps the body from absorbing proper nutrition, like some types of bariatric surgery, anorexia or bulimia, or various gastrointestinal diseases, may result in weak bones because of lack of adequate calcium intake. Prolonged use of some corticosteroid medications, antidepressants, anticonvulsants medications and proton pump inhibitors may also be damaging to bone health. Low hormone levels in postmenopausal women, or in men with low testosterone can also result in diminished bone density.
While some bone loss may be unavoidable during aging, taking appropriate steps to maintain bone health can keep such loss to a minimum.