The importance of healthy bones can’t be emphasized because of the numerous functions of healthy bones. An adult has about 206 bones which help in providing the framework for the attachment of muscles; it acts as a store house for calcium, protection of organs, mobility and in hearing. It is therefore very important that we strive to keep our bones healthy and strong at all times to prevent disease conditions like osteoporosis that set in during adulthood and other disease associated with poor bone formation and strength.
Why Do We Need Healthy Bones?
Typically, during childhood and early adulthood, bone formation occurs by the deposition of calcium and formation of new bones cells and we reached our peak bone mass by 30 years and after that, more bone mass is lost that replaced. It is important to note that as bone mass is being deposited, there are also lost and before the age of 30 years, formation of bones cells exceeds the amount of bone cells being lost. Therefore, it is important for us to develop healthy bones during early adulthood to prevent osteoporosis from setting in after we have clocked 50 years. This is reversed in the elderly where the rate at which bone mass is reabsorbed greatly exceeds bone mass deposition.
Osteoporosis seems to be more common in postmenopausal women partly because of low bone mass formation during childhood/ early adulthood and also because of the loss of female reproductive hormones which protects against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis predisposes the individual from fractures from the least fall of trauma and they are prone to certain medical conditions. Once osteoporosis sets in, it is extremely difficult to reverse, hence the best way of fighting osteoporosis is to ensure that it doesn’t occur and this can only be achieved if we take appropriate steps to ensure that we reach optimal bone mass during early adulthood.
How To Ensure Healthy Bones
1. Increase calcium consumption: Calcium is a key mineral essential for the formation of healthy and strong bones including the enamel of the teeth. It is an integral part of the framework of bones. Calcium is obtained from diet by consumption of food rich in calcium. These include: dairy products like milk, cheese, greens, legumes, spinach and yoghurt. Aside ensuring healthy bone formation, calcium is also important in muscle contraction especially the muscles of the heart, helps in the conduction of nerve impulses and also ensures optimal clotting of blood after injuries.
2. Get adequate amount of Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is important in the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Vitamin D is obtained from exposure to morning sunlight and from eating food rich in vitamin D. Examples are shrimps, green leafy vegetables, eggs, salmon and tuna fish. Without getting adequate vitamin D, one can be certain of developing osteoporosis latter in life.
3. Make adequate exercise a priority: Exercise as we all know helps in the development of strong bones and muscles. Studies conducted have shown a strong correlation between lack of exercise and osteoporosis. Individuals with sedentary life style have a 10 fold increase in the risk of developing osteoporosis. Nothing strengthens the bones as exercise as it has a positive effect on bone density.
4. Reduce alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol consumption has a negative effect on bone formation. Alcohol impairs intestinal absorption of calcium, interferes with vitamin D synthesis in the skin and the liver, it also slows down metabolism. For strong and healthy bones, it is important to cut down on alcohol intake.
5. Quit cigarette smoking: Besides being a carcinogen, cigarettes also contains toxic substances that affects bone formation. These toxins inhibit intestinal absorption of calcium, increases bone breakdown and also affects vitamin D.
6. Avoid Drugs: Avoiding long term use of drugs like steroids and other anabolic drugs greatly increase our chances of developing healthy and strong bones. These drugs on a long term affects bone mass deposition.