When it comes to bone health, little things can mean a lot. This New Year, make small resolutions – they’re easier to keep!
1. Know how much calcium is in your food.
The government’s daily recommended amount of calcium for most people is 1000mg; for older people or those with bone issues, it rises to 1500mg. Calcium is most effective when it comes in the form of food, rather than supplements; so it’s wise to calculate how much calcium is in the foods you eat every day. To up your intake, check out our Top 20 Calcium-Rich Foods.
2. Check your vitamin D level, and deal with it
Have you had your vitamin D level checked in the past few years? If not, ask for this simple blood test at your next physical. If your level is low, it’s difficult to raise it just via diet; so ask your doctor for advice on a daily vitamin D supplement.
3. Supplement dietary vitamin D with sunlight
It’s free – and it’s easy. National Institutes of Health guidelines state that as little as 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure twice a week, between mid-morning and mid-afternoon (and without sunscreen), is a significant source of vitamin D. Can’t manage that? Any amount of sunlight helps – so get out there!
4. Lift and carry something heavy each day.
Weight-bearing exercises are good for your bones. Fill up a watering can and walk around the garden. Rearrange the canned goods in your pantry. Wear a weighted vest, and go for a walk. Carry groceries from store to car, and car to house. Little things add up.
5. Try a good-for-you food you don’t usually eat.
Have you ever had a kale salad? Stir-fried tofu? Sardines on crackers? How about ricotta cheese mixed with honey and berries? These are all considered “super foods” when it comes to bone health. Looking to increase calcium in particular? See Calcium: 10 Different (and Easy) Sources.
6. Check your shower.
You probably bathe every day – and there are few everyday tasks as potentially dangerous as taking a shower. “Slip-proof” your shower with a non-skid mat. If you’re unsteady on your feet, install handrails. If you’re very frail, you may even need a shower stall. The shower that worked fine for you 20 years ago, when you moved into the house, might not be ideal today.
7. Rearrange your kitchen to prevent falls.
Do you find yourself dragging a step-stool over to the cupboards to reach that baking powder on the top shelf? Even worse – are you trying to balance on a kitchen chair? Store everything you use regularly no higher than you can reach from the ground. One wobble – one slip – is all it takes to put you in the hospital with a fracture.
8. Switch from diet soda to zero-calorie water.
The phosphoric acid present in most sodas (not just diet sodas) leads to excessive calcium excretion. And colas (or other caffeinated soft drinks) are the worst offenders. If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight and struggling, switch to a zero-calorie, non-carbonated beverage, like a flavored water. Or sip on ice water with a spritz of lemon or shot of mint syrup.
9. Move around regularly.
Inertia is the enemy of healthy bones. The more you move, the better off you are health-wise – and that includes your bones. There are lots of reasons to sit or lie down for hours on end: it’s comfortable, it’s pleasant, it’s raining and you can’t go out... Force yourself to get up out of that easy chair and walk – if only just around the house. Shake your bones!
10. Stay within your limits.
As we age, we’re reluctant to admit that we can’t do what we once did. But maybe pounding the sidewalks on your daily jog just isn’t good for you anymore. If you’re dealing with bone issues, ask your doctor to hook you up with a physical therapist; s/he can assess your exercise program, and recommend any necessary changes.
Published On: December 22, 2013