Bone density - questions explained

Bone density is so important.

Reduced bone density causes weaker more brittle bones. There are simple ways to help improve or maintain your bone density focusing on nutrition and exercise.

Not too long ago osteoporosis (very low bone density) used to be only a problem for some women over the age of 65 years old, however in todays age with lower levels of activity and poor diets even teenagers are getting diagnosed with osteoporosis. Nothing is being done to stop this!

Our bone density reaches its peak at 30 years of age. Up to this point we are building more bone than we are losing, after this point it gradually starts to flip, losing more bone than it is gaining. But not to worry! There are things we can do to help increase or maintain our bone density.

So we know we need calcium for healthy bones right? Sadly it's not that simple.

Most people actually get enough calcium in their diets, even if you eat junk food all the time your likely to meet you RDA of calcium. The issue here is more about how the calcium is getting used by the body and this is where vitamin D helps out, as well as being an antioxidant it also helps use the calcium for new bone growth so get some sun rays when you can.

The are also strong evidence that magnesium is very important in bone growth.

Magnesium helps utilise the calicuim without it calcium cannot be absorbed into the body, it also removes any extra calcium that we don't need. Magnesium helps you relax and lowers the blood pressure.

Here are 10 foods high in magnesium!

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  • Spinach (along with most dark green vegetables)
  • Pumpkin seeds (plus most seeds)
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Dark chocolate (one square around 24% RDA!)
  • Black beans
  • Tofu
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa

All pretty healthy foods to be honest, no doughnuts or pizzas sneaking in there. 

Many scientist suggest there are two more important things than calcium for bones!

Silicon and exercise.

Silicon creates the collagen matrix that give your bones most of their strength and flexibility. Without strength and flexibility your bones will become weak and brittle increasing the chance of broken bones.

To stimulate silicon we need movement, weight bearing exercises like weight training and running. The loading of the bones and the compression helps activate electrical signals to produce new silicon leading to new bone growth.

Think of it this way, if you are not moving your bones and muscles what need is there for strong bones and muscles? No need at all, hence with reduced activity we increase bone loss. 

Exercises that work particularly well for helping improve bone density include those that vertically load the muscle, for example- squats, push ups, lunges, planks and running. This is one of the most important things for bone strength, as soon as we reduce our exercise negative affects start to happen. This is one of the main reasons older people, especially women have weak and brittle bones. Being older is not an excuse to not exercise or lift the odd dumbbell.

To summarise we need silicon, exercise and magnesium to help improve and maintain our bone density. No pill or medication can ever replace this. We need this from the right nutrition and good exercise. 

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