Improving your bone health
Build strong, healthy bones for life with these simple tricks to promote and protect them
1 EAT CALCIUM-RICH FOOD
Calcium is essential for our bones because it gives them strength and rigidity. The human body contains about 1kg of calcium, with 99% of it found in our bones. Eat plenty of dairy, such as yoghurt and cheese, sardines or, if you’re vegan, green leafy vegetables, almonds, dried fruit, pulses and soya protein, which are all great sources of this vital bone mineral.
2 SOAK UP THE SUN
The body needs vitamin D to regulate the way it uses calcium, ensuring bones remain strong. Regular running outside exposes you to the sun’s ultraviolet light, forming vitamin D3 in your skin. This is then carried by your blood to organs, which convert it to an active and useful form of vitamin D. Foods such as oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals can boost your intake further.
3 LIFT SOME WEIGHT
Lifting weights and performing regular squats loads the skeleton with forces far greater than our bodyweight, directly increasing bone mineral density and creating new bone. Talk to a qualified gym instructor about building a long-term weights plan individual to you, as research shows that the benefits reaped from resistance training are greatest when performed regularly for more than a year.
4 GO THE DISTANCE
While it’s a given that running improves bone density, a paper published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology has shown the greater the training distance, the better for bone stiffness, a variable directly related to bone quality. Runners training to compete in endurance races up to the marathon saw marked improvements in the mechanical properties of the heel bone, proving that sustained weightbearing exercise increases bone health.
5 PILE ON THE POTASSIUM
Potassium salts bicarbonate and citrate – found in fruit and vegetables – reduce bone resorption, the process by which bone is broken down, increasing their strength as a result and helping to prevent osteoporosis. Research in Osteoporosis International also found a high intake of potassium salts greatly reduces the excretion of calcium and acid in urine – excess acid in the body causes bones to weaken and fracture.