Time to strengthen your 65+ bones

Bone loss usually speeds up during your 50s and continues into your 60s for both men and women, although it tends to happen more slowly in men than it does for women. This is because oestrogen, which has a protective effect on bone density, declines rapidly in women during menopause.

Everyone can benefit from practicing lifestyle habits that are essential for long term bone health, so, here’s how you can help strengthen your bones.

Optimal Calcium intake

Calcium is essential for maintaining bone strength and mass, and while it cannot reverse age related bone loss, it can help slow down the process. Women’s calcium needs increase after the age of 50 to 1300mg a day and men require 1000mg daily. This can be achieved by increasing the intake of calcium rich foods such as dairy products, canned salmon containing soft edible bones, almonds and green leafy vegetables. A calcium supplement to help meet daily calcium needs may also be beneficial.

Maintain adequate Vitamin D levels

Balanced sunlight exposure on most days of the week is important for sufficient Vitamin D production. Vitamin D can also be found in small quantities in fatty fish and eggs, although diet alone is not enough to maintain sufficient Vitamin D levels.

A Vitamin D supplement may be required for those who are at risk of low Vitamin D levels due to limited sun exposure.

Stay active

It is important for everyone to incorporate bone building strength exercises into their routine at least three times a week. This includes moderate to high impact weight bearing activities such as brisk walking, jogging, tennis or aerobics as well as progressive resistance training using gym machines or free weights.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Being under weight or carrying excessive weight can impact on bone health and may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake

Smokers tend to have lower bone density than non-smokers and excessive alcohol intake, considered to be more than two alcoholic beverages a day, is a risk factor for the development of osteoporosis.

Have a bone density test

Men and women over 50 with a family history of osteoporosis, who are on certain medication, or have other risk factors, should consult their healthcare professional for a bone density scan.