Our bones support and protect your body and they also serve as a “storage depot” for minerals. If your bones start to lose too many minerals, you may develop bone issues like osteoporosis, in which your bones become brittle and break more easily. You can keep your bones strong as you get older by doing strengthening exercises on a consistent basis and by maintaining a mineral and vitamin-rich diet.
Part 1. Maintaining a Mineral and Vitamin-Rich Diet
1. Have more dairy products. Adults need about 700 mg of calcium a day to maintain good bone health. In general, you should try to get calcium from food rather than from supplements, as this means you will also get other nutrients from food that you need to maintain overall good health. Your diet should consist of at least one high calcium food per meal, including dairy products.
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all good sources of calcium. Look for Vitamin D fortified yogurt, as Vitamin D is an essential mineral for bone health. Keep in mind milk has about the same calcium content regardless of whether it is skim or whole milk.
- Grains contain some calcium, but not as much as other foods. Adding milk or yogurt to a grain-rich cereal or having oatmeal will amp up the calcium content.
- Soy products like tofu and soy milk still contain calcium and are a good alternative if you are dairy sensitive. You can also have soy yogurt as it is high in calcium and contains probiotics, which are good for overall health.
2. Eat dark, leafy greens. Dark green, leafy vegetables have high calcium content and are a great addition to your diet. They also contain other essential vitamins and minerals that will help you stay healthy.
- Go for greens like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, watercress, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens. Vegetables like turnips and beets as also high in calcium.
3. Consume protein that is high in calcium. You should also integrate protein in your diet that is high in calcium, such as eggs, beef, and chicken. Prepare these foods in healthy ways by boiling or poaching your eggs, and boiling or baking your chicken.
- Egg yolks are also high in Vitamin D, which is another essential mineral for healthy bones.
- Fish is also a good source of protein and Vitamin D. Go for fish with soft bones you can eat, like sardines and anchovies. Seafood like shrimp is also high in calcium, as well as seaweed, and sea vegetables like wakame.
4. Add beans to your diet. Beans are a good source of calcium, especially white beans, red beans, and chickpeas. You can also consume lentils by cooking them in dishes or by having lentil products like hummus.
- When you are preparing beans for cooking, you should first soak them for two to three hours. Then, cook them in fresh water. Beans contain phytates, which can reduce calcium absorption. Soaking the beans before cooking helps to remove the phytates.
5. Snack on fruit and nuts between meals. If you tend to get hungry between your three meals a day, you may want to pack healthy snacks high in calcium, like nuts and fruit. Try to consume nuts that are raw or roasted, with no added salt or seasoning. You should also go for fresh fruit, as this will ensure you are getting the most nutrients out of your snacks.
- Go for nuts like hazelnuts and almonds, as they are high in calcium. You can also snack on figs and raisins.
- Fruits like bananas, oranges, and grapes have a high calcium content and taste delicious when fresh.
Part 2. Doing Physical Activity
1. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five times a week. You don’t need to a lot of intense activity or run marathons to maintain strong bones. Doing any kind of weight-bearing exercise, as well as cardio exercises, can help to increase your bone mass and your bone health. Try to follow a workout routine where you do at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week.
- If you have known health issues, you should talk to your doctor and discuss any exercises you should avoid or be cautious when doing. Make sure you get a clean bill of health before you embark on an intense strength exercising journey, as you do not want to injure yourself along the way.
2. Integrate cardio exercises into your daily routine. You should try to do some form of cardio exercise several times a week to ensure your heart rate is healthy and your bones are strong. You may take up jogging or running and commit to going for a run three to four times a week. Or, you may take up walking or hiking outdoors in your favorite areas several times a week.
- Try to integrate exercise in your daily routine, especially if you find it difficult to set aside time for working out. This may mean parking your car at the far end of the lot and walking into work every day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. You may also opt to bike or walk to work to squeeze in some cardio exercise into your daily routine.
3. Do weight training. Weight-bearing exercises like free weights and weight training can be great for building up bone strength. You may want to add weight training to an existing workout routine or start a workout routine that includes cardio and weight training.
- If you are new to weight training, you should make a consultation at your local gym with a trainer and get pointers on your form. The trainer may also be able to suggest specific exercises to help strengthen certain muscle groups.
- If you are not able to do weight-bearing exercises, you can do non-weight bearing exercises like swimming, biking, and using the rowing machine or elliptical machine at the gym. Keep in mind that though these exercises are good for heart health, they may not improve your bone health.
4. Include calming, relaxing activities. You should also include activities that are physical but also relaxing and calming, such as tai chi, yoga, or even dancing. You may take a weekly class in this activity or do it on your own at home. Relaxing activities are good for your physical and mental health.
5. Spend time outdoors, especially on sunny days. One of the easiest ways to get Vitamin D, an essential vitamin for bone health, is to spend time in the sun. You may choose to take your walk or run on sunny days so you can soak up some Vitamin D.
- Try to stay in the sun for 10–15 minutes at least three times a week with no sunscreen on. Make sure you get sun on the skin of your arms, face, chest, back, and legs. Individuals with darker skin may need to spend 20–25 minutes in the sun without sunscreen.
- If your skin starts to get too hot, turns read, or feels like it is burning, get out of the sun. After 10–15 minutes in the sun, you should put on sunscreen to prevent sun damage to your skin.
Part 3. Taking Supplements
1. Take calcium supplements. Look for a calcium supplement that comes in the form of calcium orotate or calcium citrate malate. Your body can better absorb these two forms of calcium. You can find calcium supplements at your local health food store or online.
- Women 50 and younger should have 1,000 mg of calcium a day, and women over 50 should have 1,200 mg of calcium a day.
- Men 70 and younger should have 1,000 mg of calcium a day and men 71 and older should have 1,200 mg of calcium a day.
- You should break up your calcium supplement consumption and have 500 mg of calcium at a time, two to three times a day. This will allow your body to better absorb the calcium and reap the benefits of the supplement.
2. Have Vitamin D supplements. It can be difficult to get your required daily intake of Vitamin D from diet alone. If you do not have access to the sun or spend much time outdoors, Vitamin D supplements might be necessary to maintain good bone health. Look for high-quality Vitamin D supplements at your local health food store or online.
- If you are younger than 70, you should be having 700 IU of Vitamin D a day.
- If you are over 70, you should have 800 IU per day. Do not take more than 4,000 IU of Vitamin D a day, as it can be toxic to your health.
- If you are used to online shopping, here is a good combo: NBI Osteo-K Bone Support | Vitamin D & K Complex with Calcium Citrate Supplement
3. Make sure the supplement is high quality. Natural supplements are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, so you should be careful when purchasing supplements in stores and online. You want to make sure the supplement contains enough of the vitamin or mineral and is not detrimental at all to your health.
- Read the ingredients listed on the label of the supplement. The supplement should contain only natural ingredients and has no more than four ingredients listed. Supplements that have a long list of ingredients, or lots of ingredients that are not natural, may not be effective.
- Check that the supplement has been independently tested and has seals of approval from Consumer Labs, the Natural Products Association (NPA), LabDoor, and/or the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki that is building the world’s largest and highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Keep Your Bones Strong As You Age. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.