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Caring For Your Bones

Bone Health

Protecting bone vitality is important for people of all ages because our frame keeps us erect and provides a safe haven for our organs. Unfortunately, bones can weaken as we grow older, and working to keep them strong becomes more challenging.

Why does this happen? Aging bones are more susceptible to mineral loss and thinning, and this change can result in fractures and/or osteoporosis (porous bones).

Here are some additional factors that put bones at risk.

  • Smoking. Smoking is harmful for a number of reasons, and bone integrity is among them. The longer a person smokes, the greater the possibility that weakening can occur. So, if you do use tobacco, stop: it can only add to your well-being.
  • Alcohol. An occasional drink every now and then is generally not a bad thing and might actually be beneficial. However, regular consumption of more than two drinks per day can accelerate bone demineralization. Because of this, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than two. People on the lighter side should not exceed one.
  • Gender. Females are at a greater risk of developing osteopenia (the beginning stage of thinning bones), osteoporosis, or even fractures. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that men can also experience these conditions.
  • Genetics and race. A propensity to bone brittleness can run in families. At the same time, Caucasians and Asians experience the likelihood of bone weakness in greater numbers.
  • Small and/or slight frame. People who have small bones, and especially those who are small and thin, maintain an increased risk of bone loss.
  • Medications. Prolonged intake of certain medications, especially steroids (e.g., prednisone), can have a harmful effect on bone health. Even long-term use of bisphosphonates, a class of drugs designed to counteract osteoporosis, are believed to have caused jaw problems and femur breaks in some people.

Even though assorted factors can negatively impact bones, there are important measures everyone can take to help offset the damage. Here are three examples.

  1. Eat healthy. Adhering to a healthy diet low in saturated fats and processed foods and rich in whole foods, lean protein, and calcium (like low-fat organic milk, fermented soy, sardines, salmon, broccoli, kale, and almonds) is extremely beneficial to bones. Even so, women over 50 and men over 70 may still need to supplement with 1200 mg. or more of calcium to stave off bone shrinkage. Calcium carbonate, a form of calcium, should be taken with meals for better absorption: calcium citrate can be taken with or without food. Vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium also contribute to stronger bones.
  2. Exercise. Ongoing motion is extremely important to bone health. Physical activity such as climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking on a treadmill or around the mall, playing sports, lifting weights (they needn’t exceed 2 to 5 pounds to make a difference), doing Pilates, yoga, aerobics, or targeted exercises, will help to slow bone decline. Even individuals with limited mobility greatly benefit from movement. In fact, there are assorted workout programs made especially for people who cannot walk. NOTE: It is important to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
  3. Chiropractic Care. Chiropractic care cannot cure osteoporosis, but a comprehensive program personalized to meet an individual’s respective situation can work to increase balance, enhance muscle tone, and augment joint mobility. These benefits help strengthen the body and reduce the likelihood of fractures. In fact, maintaining sufficient muscle tissue is vital because it helps protect bones! If osteoporosis has already set in, chiropractic care can work to slow its development and reduce the painful symptoms sometimes associated with the more advanced stages of the disease.

How can you tell if your bones are thinning? A bone density scan is good diagnostic tools. This test is noninvasive and painless and takes only minutes to administer. The hips and/or spine will usually be the target points as they are often the first areas to show signs of fracture. Many post-menopausal women are encouraged to get a bone density scan every two years.

Protecting your bones? Yes, it makes sense!