The purpose of good bone health is to prevent fractures. Most fractures happen as a result of a fall. If you do not fall, you decrease your fracture risk. How do you prevent falls?
Regular exercise will strengthen your muscles. Strong muscles are part of the solution. But you also need good balance. Good balance requires exercises to strengthen the muscles required for balance.
Balance exercises have been used for centuries to keep people limber and free from falling, and thereby, free from fractures. They are often taught in group sessions, but can be performed alone on any flat surface.
Tai Chi and Yoga are the best known ancient balance exercises. Daily, or at least 3 times weekly, sessions of 20-30 minutes will gradually improve your balance and prevent falls.
Less interesting, but easier to do anywhere, is simply walking on your toes for several minutes. More challenging is walking on your heels, like a penguin. If you can do that for 2 minutes straight, you have great muscles, strong ankles, and are unlikely to stumble, even on uneven ground.
Take Control Naturally by working on your Balance. Remember that proper nutrition is necessary for strong muscles and bones.
Jay Ginther, MD
Use them or lose them. Bones grow – or shrink – to meet their daily needs. You must be on your feet standing and walking every day if you want to be able to stand and walk. You must climb stairs most days if you want to be able to some days.
People forced to stay in bed, due to disease or injury, for days or weeks, have lost muscle and bone. Space Station Astronauts still have lower bone mass ten years after returning to earth.
Bones respond to constant weight-bearing and to impact. Therefore, walking on a firm surface strengthens your legs and spine more than bicycling, stair-stepper, or treadmill. Jogging and running apply more impact.
But remember, that a sudden increase in impact – intensity or duration – can produce stress fractures. Gradually increase the speed or duration of any exercise over weeks and months. Stretch before and after exercises for the sake of muscles, joints and bones.
Daily exercise is important, but alternating days of heavy and light exercise is even more important.
Take Control Naturally of your Bone Health. Light exercise daily. Longer or faster exercise 2 or 3 times weekly.
Jay Ginther, MD
Bones are over 80% protein. The organic part of bone is collagen, which is protein. Calcium is gradually deposited into the organic bone matrix to make bone stiffer. Ideal bone is mildly flexible, like a titanium airplane wing.
Healthy bones require adequate protein in your diet. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are good. Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish have less cholesterol than beef or pork. All sorts of beans, lentils, garbanzos (humus), nuts are vegetarian alternatives.
Protein needs are higher when you are growing, and again starting in your 60’s. The basic guideline during adulthood is 1 gram of protein for each kilo of lean weight. See our previously posted Protein Chart.
Muscle is mostly protein. Strong muscles keep bones strong by tugging on them and by compressing them. Strong muscles maintain balance and prevent falls.
Preparing protein foods from scratch can be time consuming. Some days I take the shortcut of Premier Protein Shakes. 30 grams of protein, only 1 gram sugar, low fat, only 160 calories, made from milk solids, and they have 500 mg Calcium.
Take Control Naturally by getting enough Protein in your diet.
Jay Ginther, MD
Vitamin D is necessary in order to absorb Calcium from your diet. Your skin can make some Vitamin D from the Mid-day Sun, but only in the “summer”. The sun is high enough above the horizon at mid-day only 5 months of the year in Iowa. Over half of Iowans are low on Vitamin D as summer ends in September. 7 out of 8 Iowans are low by mid April when we can first get a few minutes a day of Vitamin D. That’s the Good News.
The Bad News is that Sun Block blocks Vitamin D production in skin. You need to risk Sunburn and Skin Cancer “naturally” if you want to make your Vitamin D “naturally”. Plus you need to expose enough skin (determined by your age and personal genetics) to make enough Vitamin D.
Foods naturally high in Vitamin D3 include “yummy” Seal Blubber and Cod Liver Oil. Most Fish Oil does not have much D3. Vitamin D2 from plants (like mushrooms) is much less long lasting than D3, so we are talking pounds of mushrooms daily.
Your easiest and safest move is to take extra Vitamin D3. The amount of D3 in your multiple vitamins and minerals, calcium supplements, and milk combined are very rarely enough. Most of us need 2,000 to 5000 units of additional D3 daily.
Test for 25-hydroxy Vitamin D Level to tell if you are taking enough to get between 40 and 80 ng/ml in your blood.
Help to Take Control Naturally by getting enough Vitamin D.
Jay Ginther, MD