Why you need to look after your bones in your 30’s and beyond

Throughout life bone is continually being renewed (remodeled); minerals are continually being added to bone but also taken from bone. Until about the age of 30, men and women build more bone than they lose, helping their bones achieve their maximum strength and density (peak bone mass). From our mid-thirties, this changes.

Bone breakdown overtakes the building of new bone and bone mass will begin to naturally decline with age. In women, the rate of bone loss spikes to approximately 2% per year, for several years following menopause.1 If a woman’s bone mass before menopause is less than ideal, any bone loss that occurs during menopause may result in osteoporosis.

In men, the decrease in bone mass occurs at a slower rate until around the age of 65, allowing their bone mass to remain adequate until later in life. When men reach 65-70 years of age however, the rate of bone loss becomes the same for men and women, at which point they become more susceptible to developing osteoporosis.2

Although some degree of bone loss is inevitable in your 30’s and beyond, there are simple steps you can take to maximise bone formation and minimize the rate of bone loss as you age:

  • Sufficient dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D – Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for preserving and strengthening bones, and can help guard against osteoporosis.
  • Exercise – Regular weight-bearing exercise and strength training are important for maintaining strong and healthy bones, and reducing bone loss.3 Weight-bearing exercise includes brisk walking, impact aerobics, tennis and netball, and strength training can be machine-based (for example the leg press or seated rower) or performed using free weights such as dumbbells.3
  • Make smart lifestyle choices – Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can both affect the density of bones and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.1 To boost bone health post-30, avoid smoking and consume no more than two standard alcoholic beverages a day, with at least two alcohol-free days each week.4