Our Bones for life
D exercise choices against fractures, AIGH MACNEIL
d fruit, nuts (especially almonds), ds and broccoli are also good rces, along with white flour that’s fied with calcium. ear in mind however that calcium airy is more easily absorbed and d by our bodies than the calcium ther foods, so if you don’t eat y for any reason speak to your GP dietitian about how to get ugh in your diet.
MEMBER VITAMIN D
s vitamin is vital as it helps the y absorb and use ium. It’s hard to get ugh vitamin D from alone because e are only a few ds that naturally tain it. hese include s and oily fish h as salmon, h tuna, trout, kerel and sardines. he best way to get e vitamin D is by safe osure to the sun. In umn and winter the sun’s aren’t strong enough in UK to make vitamin D. So it’s no prise that national surveys show the levels in our blood (in all age groups) are highest between July and September and lowest from January to March.
For most fair-skinned people exposing the hands and face for about 15 minutes a few times a week during spring and summer is sufficient, darker skins may need a little longer. Make sure you never go red or burn to avoid increasing your risk of skin cancer.
Vitamin D-fortified foods, such as cereals and yogurts or a supplement are good ways to top up. The Department of Health recommends a daily 10mcg supplement each day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who spend most of their time indoors (elderly people in care homes, for instance) and people who cover
their skin when outside.
WALK, JOG OR DANCE
Exercise is crucial. Activities that involve jumping are particularly good for boosting strength, jogging, brisk walking, dancing, rebounding and Zumba are all bone-friendly options. Experts also recommend resistance training which helps blood flow to your bones. One study in The Journal Of Sports Medicine And Physical Fitness found that low-weight, high-repetition resistance training classes could increase bone density.
WATCH YOUR BMI
Your body mass index should be between 20 and 25. If it’s too low you’ll have less bone tissue overall which makes osteoporosis more likely. Yet carrying too much weight puts your bones under strain.
A study from Harvard Medical School in Boston found some overweight people actually carry fat inside their bones which makes them weaker. It also revealed fat around the middle indicates a higher risk.
WHAT A SCAN CAN REVEAL
If you’re concerned about your bone density for any reason speak to your GP who’ll do an assessment to work out whether you’d benefit from a scan. The gold standard is a DXA scan. It uses X-rays to look at four vertebrae in your spine and one in your hips to assess how far above or below average your bone mineral density is. The scan generates what’s known as a T-score for osteoporosis.
If necessary you will be offered medication to lower your risk of fractures as well as advice about any changes you need to make.
YOUR BONE BLACKLIST
Too much salt leads to a loss of calcium in the urine.
Excess caffeine can also lead to loss of calcium in the urine. Regularly drinking phosphoric acid-containing fizzy drinks uses calcium to neutralise their acidity.
Nicotine is toxic to bone cells, bone breaks down faster in smokers.
Excessive amounts of vitamin A, that’s more than 1.5mg daily over many years, increases the risk of bone problems. If you take supplements that contain vitamin A make sure your combined intake from food (such as liver) and supplements isn’t more than 1.5mg.
Excessive alcohol increases your risk of osteoporosis so don’t go over the recommended limit of 14 units per week.
The full version of this article appears in the June edition of Healthy Food Guide, which is on sale now. For more health advice and recipes visit healthyfood.co.uk
SIMPLE WAYS TO BOOST YOur CALCIuM InTAkE
9. Reach for a pot of low-fat fruit yogurt or fat-free Greek yogurt with some berries next time you have a sweet craving. 10. Top porridge with low-fat yogurt and sunflower seeds.