Weight-bearing exercises help in bone formation and thus are good to improve your bone health (if you have enough calcium in your diet).
Women are more prone to weak bones because of their hormonal changes with age. They can store calcium in their bones and make them strong up to the age of 35 years. After the age of 35, whatever they do the calcium in the bones is bound to deplete because of hormonal changes. So, they need to take special care of their bone health in young age for better bone quality in the old age.
To keep your bones strong and healthy, they need to have a well-balanced lifestyle and diet in their 20s and 30s. This means enough milk or milk products intake (including curd, cheese, lassi etc), active lifestyle, weight-bearing exercises, no smoking and alcohol. We need 500 ml of milk or milk products every day for our daily requirement of calcium. Tea and coffee chelate the calcium in milk and the milk intake in these forms are not calculated in your daily intake of milk. Tobacco and alcohol suppress the new bone formation and thus doesn’t allow the dietary calcium to be a part of your bone structure.
The women are genetically designed in such a way that their bones start losing calcium after the age of 35. The speed of this depletion is in our hands. If we live a healthy and active lifestyle with a good amount of calcium and protein in our diet and regular exercises, then the speed of this depletion becomes very slow. If they follow this routine, then they can have good and strong bones for the rest of their life. Yes, they must take certain antisteatotic medications as a preventive measure after the menopause.
Calcium is an important ion in the body, and it is needed for all power activities of the cell. If we are not having enough calcium in the blood, we will collapse. It is an active ion in the powerhouse of the cell, called mitochondria. Bones are the storehouse of calcium in the body. So, if we don’t take enough calcium in the diet with the healthy lifestyle the body will release it from the bones and gradually, they will become week.
Besides, active lifestyle and dietary calcium, we should also have normal Vit D in our body. Vitamin D is available only from sunlight and our skin must be exposed to direct sun for 20 to 30 min per day to fulfil our daily requirement of Vit D. This has become almost impossible in today’s lifestyle. So regular supplement of Vit D is required to keep the blood levels at optimum levels. If your diet is well balanced and you live an active lifestyle, but your Vit D is low then also you will deplete the calcium from bones and that leads to poor bone health.
If you ignore these facts, then you will land up with weak bones at an early age, the disease is called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis means the bone density decreases and thus the quality of bone deteriorates. This leads to severe fractures with low impact falls and sometimes even without injuries. The patient may also have chronic back pain and joint pains with deformation of the bones over a period.
To prevent these problems in old age, the time to build your bones is up to the age of 35. So, focus on good diet, active lifestyle, regular exercises and avoid alcohol and tobacco for your bone health today and in future. It is not impossible to avoid Osteoporosis in old age; it just needs a more disciplined life.
(With inputs from Dr Subhash Jangid, Director and Unit Head, Fortis Bone and Joint Institute, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram)
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