Many older adults are in negative calcium balance and steadily losing bone mass. You can stop bone mass loss in three simple steps.
Why Should You Maintain Bone Health?
A frequent diagnosis among older adults is osteoporosis, which is a condition characterized by porous and fragile bones. Osteoporosis occurs when calcium intake is low or poorly absorbed, and thus bone breakdown occurs. According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis, older people with weakened bone density are likely to suffer from or incur a fall which could result in a hip fracture. The statistics are staggering as 1.5 million osteoporotic fractures are recorded annually and among those are approximately 250,000 hip fractures within the United States. And for one in five people who have experienced an hip fracture, the results are sobering; for these people, the hip trauma turns fatal within one year of the initial injury. In addition, one in three adults who live independently before a hip fracture remains in a nursing home for at least one year after the injury, often leading to depression and isolation. With statistics this high, its crucial to understand the role of calcium and vitamin D requirements for the aging population.
Obtain Calcium And Vitamin D Through Food!
How do we protect our bone density and ensure our bones remain strong? The biggest controllable factor is our calcium intake, and pairing that with adequate vitamin D, which assists in the absorption of calcium. For men and women over age 50, the recommended dietary allowance for calcium is 1200 mg per day. Currently, the highest amount of calcium in food form is an 8-ounce serving of plain low-fat yogurt, which provides 415 mg of calcium. Yogurt is a great source of calcium! In fact, the largest observational study to date conducted in Dublin, Ireland, in collaboration with St. James Hospital, Dublin and Ulster University has found a positive correlation between yogurt intake and bone density. Total hip and femoral neck bone density measures in females were 3.1-3.9% higher, and in men, the bone breakdown was 9.5% lower for those with increased yogurt intake over lower recorded intakes from their peers. Although the research was observational, and many other factors can contribute to bone health (such as medications, physical activity, and vitamin D), this was a great indication that consuming foods high in calcium can assist with the prevention of osteoporosis and promote positive bone density results. We always think of calcium as milk and cheese but is also abundantly found in tofu, orange juice, salmon, turnip greens, kale, and sardines.
Though many of us focus on obtaining adequate calcium, statistics show us that a combination of calcium and vitamin D are more effective in managing bone health than just one alone. Men and women ages 51 to 70 should consume at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, and this recommendation increases to 800 IUs daily for those over 70. Exposure to sunlight causes your body to make vitamin D although most older adults don’t receive enough from the sun. Incorporating foods like salmon, tuna, liver, eggs, and fortified milk can assist in replenishing your vitamin D stores in the body.
Exercise Your Bones
In addition to the nutritional component of maintaining bone, health exercise is also critical. As contradictory as it may seem physical activity that puts stress on bones causes them to retain and even gain bone density. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging and strength training are great ways to incorporate healthy exercise, and adding them in for 30 minutes per day will achieve your goal! Making your body stronger will also help with balance and coordination which prevents many falls from occurring for the older adult.
Supplement The Vitamins and Minerals In Your Food
The preferred way to obtain adequate calcium is through food, per the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, however, taking advantage of the variety of calcium supplements on the market today is another alternative. One calcium carbonate, which is a typical over-the-counter product, such as Tums or Rolaids, provides around 200 to 400mg calcium. Calcium citrate is the other calcium supplement is which is absorbed easier for people over age 50 due to low levels of stomach acid. Calcium citrate can vary in dosage, depending on the product. Adding a multivitamin is another avenue to reach your vitamin D goal. A multivitamin provides around 400 IUs per day and as a bonus also provides calcium!
So, take these three easy steps to help retain your bone mass! Increase your intake of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D—then add the right supplement for your diet. And don’t forget, to exercise! Together, these actions will make an impact on your future.
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