Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone density, making a person’s bones weak and more likely to fracture. Low bone mass and osteoporosis affect nearly 54 million older Americans, and osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because many people don’t know they have the disease until after breaking a bone, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Low bone mass or osteoporosis can limit seniors’ mobility and put them at risk for dangerous falls and injuries. But while osteoporosis is a common senior health issue, it is not an inevitable part of aging. Fortunately, bone loss can be slowed or even prevented by making health and lifestyle changes. Here are some ways to keep your bones healthy and strong as you age.
Add calcium to your diet
The foods we eat play an important role in our bone health. One essential nutrient for bone health is calcium, which is necessary for building strong bones and protecting bone mass. Calcium is often found in dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, but you can also get more calcium by consuming fish, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Some foods, such as orange juice or cereal, are also fortified with calcium.
Incorporate sources of vitamin D
The body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium and take advantage of its bone-building benefits. Some excellent sources of vitamin D include tuna and sardines, eggs, and fortified milk. The body can naturally produce vitamin D by exposure to sunlight, and spending just 10 minutes in the sun each day can help you produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D. If you’re concerned about getting enough vitamin D, talk to your doctor.
Try strength-building exercises
Adding physical activity to your daily routine is another way to prevent bone loss and help build stronger bones. Exercise can also help seniors strengthen their muscles and improve balance, which may decrease their chances of falling. Light to moderate strength-building exercises such as swimming, walking, jogging, dancing, and lifting weights can help seniors build strength, improve flexibility and coordination, and promote better posture, all of which contribute to fall prevention.
Get a good night’s rest
Our bones are in a constant cycle of changing and remodeling as new bone is formed and old bone is broken down. However, as we grow older, our bones break down faster than new bone mass is rebuilt. Recent research suggests that there may be a connection between sleep deprivation and lower bone density in older adults. Older adults should try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep to help promote bone regrowth and regeneration.