...Main­tain strong bones

Skele­tal strength is built in our teenage years – but high-cal­cium foods, vi­ta­min D and ex­er­cise help at any age,

Friday - - HEALTH - says Kate Carter

1 RE­MEM­BER THAT TEENAGE YEARS ARE KEY

Un­til about the age of 30, our bod­ies are still build­ing bone and the teenage years are the cru­cial pe­riod in this process - os­teo­poro­sis has been called ‘a pae­di­atric dis­ease with geri­atric con­se­quences’. Girls build as much bone in the two years after their first pe­riod as they lose in the last four decades of their lives.

2 WATCH YOUR CAL­CIUM IN­TAKE

A healthy, bal­anced diet should usu­ally con­tain ev­ery­thing the body needs for strong bones, pri­mar­ily cal­cium and vi­ta­min D. NHS guide­lines ad­vise a daily cal­cium in­take of about 700mg, although in the US and else­where the tar­get is 1,000mg or higher. How­ever, post­menopausal women do not ab­sorb as much cal­cium and suf­fer from greater bone loss, so sup­ple­ments may be needed. Ado­les­cent girls, ath­letes and those with lac­tose in­tol­er­ance are among other groups who may need sup­ple­men­ta­tion.

3 EAT WELL

Most of us are taught from child­hood that milk builds strong bones. But there are a lot of foods with a high cal­cium con­tent, many of them non-dairy, such as tofu, nuts, sar­dines, chick­peas, for­ti­fied ce­re­als and green leafy veg­eta­bles. High in­take of green and yel­low veg­eta­bles has been linked with in­creased bone min­er­al­i­sa­tion dur­ing child­hood and the main­te­nance of bone mass in young adults. Be­ware of spinach, though – while it is good for you in other ways, it is high in ox­alic acid, which pre­vents your body from ab­sorb­ing cal­cium as ef­fi­ciently.

4 MON­I­TOR VIT D LEV­ELS

The body needs vi­ta­min D to ab­sorb cal­cium prop­erly - and a lack of it can lead to bone de­for­mi­ties such as rick­ets or os­teo­ma­la­cia. Although this re­gion are blessed with sun­shine all through the year, cases of vi­ta­min D de­fi­ciency are be­ing re­ported. Guide­lines rec­om­mend con­sid­er­ing a daily sup­ple­ment of 10 mi­cro­grams. You can also boost your in­take of vi­ta­min-D rich foods (such as eggs or fatty fish). At-risk groups, in­clud­ing peo­ple with darker skin and those who do not spend time out­doors (such as peo­ple in care homes), should con­sider fol­low­ing this guid­ance all year.

5 EX­ER­CISE

Weight-bear­ing ex­er­cise is vi­tal in main­tain­ing bone health through­out life. Run­ning, brisk walk­ing, weight train­ing and yoga are all good ex­er­cises. Yes, run­ning: a study of nearly 75,000 run­ners and 15,000 walk­ers found that the for­mer were roughly half as likely to de­velop arthri­tis as the lat­ter. Even peo­ple who have os­teo­poro­sis can and should - with a doc­tor’s ap­proval - do reg­u­lar ex­er­cise. The Na­tional Os­teo­poro­sis So­ci­ety is a good re­source for in­for­ma­tion.

6 GET ENOUGH PRO­TEIN

While pro­tein de­fi­ciency is very rare, there is some ev­i­dence that a low in­take de­creases cal­cium ab­sorp­tion. Older women seem to ben­e­fit par­tic­u­larly from higher pro­tein con­sump­tion. In a study of more than 144,000 post­menopausal women, higher pro­tein in­take was as­so­ci­ated with a lower risk of frac­tures and higher bone den­sity.

7 MAIN­TAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT

Be­ing very un­der­weight , or fol­low­ing an ex­tremely low-calo­rie diet, are sig­nif­i­cant risk fac­tors for bone loss. One study of women fol­low­ing a 925-calo­rie-a-day diet showed that they ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant bone loss, even while fol­low­ing a re­sis­tance-train­ing pro­gramme.

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