Well folks, May is almost over, and with it, Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. But don’t you worry, because around here, bone health is always in season.
Why? Your skeleton is your foundation, your support system, and your bodyguard.
Neglecting your skeleton means you’re playing a risky game of bone Jenga, with low bone density and osteoporosis — something that impacts 54 million Americans — waiting to knock you down.
Not all risk factors for weak bones are in your control, but if we get to the marrow of the matter, we can tackle the ones that are with wellness practices, nutrition boosts, and strategic supplement use.
In This Article:
- The importance of bone health
- Risk factors for bone loss that can be controlled
- Risk factors for bone loss that cannot be controlled
- Supplements for bone health — calcium and beyond
Your Bone Health Matters
Strong bones are the backbone of overall health and wellness, literally and figuratively.
Your bones are more than just a fancy scaffolding for your body — they’re a living, metabolically active organ, constantly breaking down and rebuilding through a process called remodeling. That’s why Dr. Neal, Woodstock Vitamins founder and holistic pharmacist, considers bone support part of the Vital5.
Ignoring bone health can lead to an imbalance in this remodeling process, resulting in weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures, chronic pain, and even osteoporosis. And the worst part?
You can’t just wait until you’re 40 to start worrying about it.
Bone mass actually peaks at age 30, so the earlier you start focusing on bone health, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Plus, strong bones mean you can keep doing the things you love and maintain your independence as you age.
So, don’t wait until it’s too late to start prioritizing your bone health!
Are You at Risk for Bone Loss?
Life, as we know it, is full of risks. We can’t avoid them all, but when it comes to bone health, we can avoid some!
Bone Loss Risk Factors You CAN Control
If you thought smoking was just bad for your lungs, think again! Not only does it decrease bone density and make your bones weaker, but it can also mess with your body’s ability to absorb calcium and other nutrients necessary for healthy bones.
Boozing it up may be fun in the moment, but excessive alcohol consumption is a buzzkill for your bones. It can prevent your body from properly absorbing the nutrients it needs to keep bones strong and increase your risk of falls that can lead to fractures.
Junk food is always tempting, but it won’t do your bones any favors. Poor nutrition can rob your body of the nutrients it needs to build and maintain strong bones, and it can also wreak havoc on your overall health.
Without enough calcium and Vitamin D, your bones may throw in the towel before their time. So, it’s essential to make sure you’re getting enough of these vital nutrients to keep your bones strong and healthy for the long haul.
Learn More: Calcium Doesn’t Work (Like You Think It Does)
Watch out for those sneaky medications! Certain long-term medications like glucocorticoids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and some anticonvulsants and antidepressants can be bone thieves, increasing your risk of bone density issues.
Your bones need you to be moving and grooving! That’s right, physical activity is essential for building and maintaining strong bones. Inactivity, on the other hand, can lead to bone and muscle loss.
Bone Loss Risk Factors You CANNOT Control
As we age, our bones start to lose mass and become less dense. That’s why 75% of fractures occur after the age of 65.
If you’re a woman, you’re more likely to experience bone density issues than your male counterparts. In fact, after the age of 50, 1 in 2 women (versus 1 in 4 men) will develop osteoporosis.
Ethnicity also plays a role, with Caucasian and Asian women at higher risk.
If you’re small and thin-boned, you’re at greater risk of developing bone density issues.
Heredity does appear to play a role. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, you may be more likely to develop it yourself.
Certain medical conditions, like celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis, can also increase your risk.
How Can You Prevent Bone Loss?
You know what they say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And when it comes to osteoporosis, that couldn’t be more true!
Don’t wait until you break a hip to start thinking about bone health. Start with bone-building wellness practices as early as possible, and bolster them with savvy strategies to strengthen your skeleton and prevent bone loss.
- Get Moving. Engage in weight-bearing exercises like running or lifting weights to build and maintain bone mass. Don’t forget about muscle-strengthening exercises too.
- Nix the Bad Habits. Quit smoking and curb your alcohol intake to avoid contributing to bone loss.
- Supplement Wisely. Consider taking supportive minerals and vitamins (listed below!) alongside your calcium hydroxyapatite supplement to give your bones a little extra love.
- Live Well. Follow the Wellness Pyramid for a holistic approach to overall health, and you’ll see the benefits reflected in your bones as well.
Learn More: Bone-Afide Bone Building Wellness Practices
Best Supplements for Bone Health
Alright, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. You’re already munching on a healthy, bone-forward diet and keeping your skeleton active, but you want to go above and beyond? Supplements are the answer.
So, which ones are the superheroes for bone health?
Calcium for Bone Health
Sure, calcium might be the poster child for bone health, but it’s not a one-nutrient show. Turns out, other players like Vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, collagen, and exercise are also key to keeping those bones strong and steady.
(If you are going to start with calcium though, learn why we always recommend calcium hydroxyapatite of all the options available.)
Vitamin D and Bone Health
Are you ready to get your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin? Vitamin D is a key player in bone health, helping your body absorb calcium and phosphorus like a pro. Studies have shown that Vitamin D supplements can boost bone density and lower the risk of fractures in older adults.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends the following daily Vitamin D intake levels:
- 600-800 IU/day for children and adults up to age 70
- 800-1,000 IU/day for adults over age 70
When it comes to supplements, Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the way to go, as it’s the same form of the vitamin your skin produces when it soaks up those sweet, sweet rays.
Vitamin C for Bone Health
You know what they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but it might also help keep your chiropractor away, too!
Vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables, is key for bone health because it stimulates the production of collagen – the stuff that makes up bone tissue.
Studies have shown that getting enough Vitamin C can help reduce the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis, especially in women post-menopause. So, make sure you’re getting your daily dose of Vitamin C:
- 75-90mg/day for women
- 90mg/day for men.
While getting enough Vitamin C from your diet is important for bone health, it may be beneficial to supplement with Vitamin C if you are not meeting your daily needs through food alone.
Magnesium for Bone Health
Magnesium may not get as much attention as other minerals, but it’s essential for keeping those bones strong and healthy. (And like, a million other things, too.)
You see, magnesium helps your body absorb and use calcium properly, which is basically the backbone (pun intended) of your skeletal system.
Research has shown that magnesium supplementation can help to improve bone density. The recommended daily intake of magnesium for adults is:
- 310-420mg/day for women
- 400-420mg/day for men
Keep in mind that most of us (approximately 50% of the American population), aren’t getting the same levels of magnesium through our meals as previous generations did.
The staples of our Western diet — processed foods, refined grains and flours, sugars, fat — are all totally devoid of magnesium, and magnesium deficiencies can be nearly impossible to spot on labs. If you’re looking for a safe supplement that can support your bones and help your issues with sleep, stress management, muscle performance, etc., magnesium might be it.
Potassium and Bone Health
Potassium, for all its unsung glory, is a real team player. By neutralizing excess acid in the body, potassium helps prevent the loss of calcium from bones.
Low levels of potassium in the diet have been linked to weaker bones and an increased risk of fractures. Adults should aim for 2,500-3,000mg of potassium per day, but supplements are typically capped at just 100mg.
So, munch on potassium-rich foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, and spinach to keep your bones in top shape.
Collagen for Bone Health
Collagen is the “glue” that holds our bones together, and as we age, our bodies produce less of it. This can lead to weaker bones and a higher risk of fractures. But fear not, collagen supplements are here to save the day!
Not only does collagen have a reputation for boosting skin and joint health, but this nutrient can also help bolster bones and close the gap on protein intake. Collagen peptides — our top recommendation for collagen supplements — can be consumed in a variety of forms, from powders and capsules to gummies.
Learn More: Why Collagen Peptides Are Vital
Vitamin K for Bone Health
Vitamin K is like the secret hero of bone health. It doesn’t get as much love as calcium or Vitamin D, but it plays a crucial role in keeping our bones strong. It’s like the behind-the-scenes worker who makes everything run smoothly.
Vitamin K helps activate a bone-building protein called osteocalcin, which binds calcium to the bone matrix. It works in tandem with Vitamin D to promote the formation of bone-building proteins.
Now, if you’re eating a balanced diet with plenty of leafy greens and other Vitamin K-rich foods, you’re probably good to go. But if you want to go the extra mile for your bones, a Vitamin K2 supplement with 45-90mcg can do the trick.
Vitamin B12 and Bone Health
If you thought vitamin B12 was only good for red blood cells and nerves, then we’re sorry for bursting your bubble! This little powerhouse actually plays a crucial role in bone health as well by helping to produce osteoblasts, the bone-building cells.
If you’re not getting enough B12, your bones may suffer, which can lead to an increased risk of fractures. But fear not, B12 supplements come in all shapes and sizes, from liquid to capsules.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the following are the daily recommended intakes of vitamin B12:
- Infants (0-6 months): 0.4 micrograms (mcg)
- Infants (7-12 months): 0.5 mcg
- Children (1-3 years): 0.9 mcg
- Children (4-8 years): 1.2 mcg
- Children (9-13 years): 1.8 mcg
- Teens (14-18 years): 2.4 mcg
- Adults (19 years and older): 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant women: 2.6 mcg
- Breastfeeding women: 2.8 mc
It’s important to note that while Vitamin B12 plays a role in bone health, it is not a standalone solution for maintaining strong bones — taking care of your bones is a joint effort.
Prioritize Your Bone Health
Let’s face it: weak bones are a bummer. Nobody wants to deal with fractures, osteoporosis, or constant pain. That’s why taking care of our bone health is crucial if we want to stay active and enjoy life to the fullest.
Calcium may be the star of the show, but let’s not forget about its supporting cast:
Incorporating these essential nutrients and minerals into your daily routine can help slow bone density loss, protect against fractures, and keep you rocking and rolling through life. Don’t wait until your bones start creaking and cracking, take action now!
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back (pun intended). Book a free Counterside Consult and our bone experts will guide you on the path to better skeletal health.