Our bones are constantly changing, and as we age, we require more nutrients to keep our bones healthy. Here’s what you need to know
Our bones are continuously changing—old bone is broken down, and new bone is made. In our childhood years, our bodies make new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, resulting in an increase of bone mass. Most of us will reach our ‘peak’ bone mass around 30 years old, and after that, the bone remodelling will continue but at a slightly lesser rate—we will lose more bone mass than we gain.
The key nutrients in building and maintaining strong bones are calcium and vitamin D: Calcium supports your bones and teeth structure, while vitamin D improves calcium absorption and bone growth. Adults up to the age of 50 years should get 1,000mg of calcium and 200 international units of vitamin D a day. Adults over 50 should get 1,200mg of calcium and 400-600 international units of vitamin D. There are a number of foods that will help achieve these daily targets, such as yogurt and milk, but there are also a number of supplements available to support both your vitamin D and calcium intake.
Cod Liver Oil Plus Omega-3
Cod liver oil is useful for those suffering from arthritis, as the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oils can reduce pain. This supplement is fortified with vitamin D, and a rich source of omega-3 nutrients.
Vitamin D3 is produced in our bodies underneath our skin as a reaction to sunlight exposure. For those that are housebound, of Asian origin or rarely outdoors, this supplement can help to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body to help keep teeth and bones healthy. Each tablet contains 1,000 international units (I.U.) of vitamin D.
Calcium and Magnesium with Vitamin D
These three nutrients contribute to the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, whilst maintaining normal muscle function and regulating blood calcium levels. Each tablet contains 1,000mg of calcium, 500mg of magnesium at 400 I.U. of vitamin D.
Key nutrients explained
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium and maintaining bone and teeth health. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness caused by osteomalacia in adults.
Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth, regulates muscle contractions and ensures that blood clots normally. A lack of calcium could lead to osteoporosis in later life.
Magnesium helps to make sure that the parathyroid glands (which produce hormones that are important for bone health) work correctly, and also helps to turn the food we eat into energy.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat that can help protect the body against heart disease, but also help to keep our joints healthy and can ease the pain for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
SEE ALSO: Tackling Dupuytren's Contracture
Dietary sources of calcium and vitamin D
Remember, supplements are intended to help reach the daily-recommended intake, and should not be used in place of food. Add the following nutrient-rich foods to your diet:
Dairy products: Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
Fortified foods and drinks: Orange juice and some cereals
Dark green vegetables: Broccoli, collard greens, bok choy
Fish: Sardines, salmon and tuna
Maintain your bone health
Exposure to sunlight causes your body to make vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. It’s recommended to get at least an hour of sunlight a day.
Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Try walking, gardening or dancing.
Your doctor can advise you as to whether you should be taking prescription medications to improve your bone health.
Smoking and heavy alcohol use can decrease bone mass. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake can prevent this decrease, along with improving your overall health.
See also: Vital Vitamins and Nutrients
READ MORE: Supplement Your Life