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Are your bones older than you are?

 Here are top five tips to keep them strong.

We have always been told that calcium is the key to lifelong bone health, but a German study found that it could also double your risk of suffering a heart attack. Especially for women over 40, many of who take large doses to keep their bones strong after the menopause.

So should you ditch your calcium pills?
There’s no need to panic, this study just confirms what we already knew i.e. if you want to ward off weak bones as you age, you’re better off drinking a glass of milk a day and exercise more, as suggested by Medanta’s Ortho experts.
As the main concern is the big doses of calcium in tablet form that flood the body in one hit, while calcium in food and drink is absorbed more slowly and is therefore a safer option. However, the heart attack risk identified in this study is actually pretty small and must be weighed against the fact that lots of us don’t get enough calcium in our diet.

In India, half of all women and one in five men over the age of 50 suffer a break because of bone weakness. And almost three million people are estimated to have osteoporosis, the bone-thinning condition, even kids are at risk which is attributable to junk food diets combined with sitting inside playing computer games resulting in weak bone build up at the crucial time that will be at risk in adulthood.

Here are five steps that will help you get stronger bones:

1. EAT PROPERLY

Getting 1,000mg of calcium a day is the first step and you’re much better off doing this through diet if you can. The best food sources are low-fat dairy such as semi-skimmed milk and yoghurt, as well as bony fish, leafy green veg rich in calcium, such as broccoli and spinach, dry fruits such as figs and breakfast cereals fortified with calcium are also good sources.

2. GET MORE VITAMIN D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Although some is found in oily fish, our main source comes from the effect of sunlight on your skin. It’s estimated that half of us have a deficiency because we don’t get outside enough or because we always use sun-block. Just 10 minutes of sunlight a day on bare arms and your face can cut your risk of bone fractures by a three times.

3. THE RIGHT MOVES

Another vital way to boost your bones is weight-bearing exercise, basically anything that uprights and stretches your muscles. Good choices include aerobics, dancing or brisk walking. Research shows that if you don’t exercise you end up losing out all the calcium you take in instead of storing it in your bones, the more hours one spend on his/her feet, the fewer bone breakages they have in later life.

4. AVOID CONSUMING TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL

People who smoke have significantly lower bone density and drinking more than seven alcoholic drinks a week can prevent your bones from absorbing the maximum nutrients from your food. So, it is advised not consume alcohol or tobacco in any form to maintain good health of your bones.

5. WATCH YOUR STRESS LEVELS

High levels of stress make the body produce the hormone cortisol, which causes bone loss. Over a long period this can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Yoga, walking the dog or listening to music can all help bust stress and improve your bone health.

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