Have you ever pictured your body without bones? Bones are incredibly important and much like a building with reinforced concrete they allow us to stand upright and support the latticework of our inner workings. Without bones, likely you would just collapse into a heap of skin and organs. Additionally, bones are also a reservoir of minerals for the body to use. They continuously lend out minerals to the rest of the body and then replace them when we eat and stores are plentiful. This allows bones to repair themselves when injured, or build stronger bones when stressed by physical activity. It also allows the many cellular processes that depend on calcium for proper functioning to draw from the bone storage pools when needed.
This process of building and tearing down bone is called remodeling and happens regularly throughout our lives. Initially, as a growing child, this process involves more building than remodeling. Then somewhere around the age of 30, the body reaches its peak bone mass, which the body will hopefully maintain at a fairly constant level throughout our lives. In females, bone mass tends to decline much more quickly at the onset of menopause. At this point, the rate of bone loss is out pacing bone building due to hormonal shifts in the body. This is a critical time for the body because if it is not monitored properly the bones can become too fragile and porous, possibly contributing to the formation of fractures. This process of bones becoming weaker and brittle is called osteoporosis. This process also occurs in males but often at a much more gradual pace.
At Emerald City Clinic, we utilize several tools to help minimize osteoporosis including encouraging a proper diet and exercise routine, proper bone density monitoring, and proper supplementation.
When discussing bone health, we are most concerned with weight-bearing exercise, which is any activity where the body must bear its own weight. Weight-bearing exercise is paramount for healthy bones because it stresses your bones to work against gravity and to maintain or even improve their strength. That said, before starting an exercise routine please discuss this with your Emerald City physician, as exercise recommendation vary depending on your bone and cardiovascular health.
Dietary-wise, foods that provide good sources of calcium include leafy greens, like kale and spinach, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, fish, and organic dairy products. The leafy greens also have the added benefit of providing vitamin K which also plays a vital role in keeping bones healthy. In addition, we also recommend proper vitamin D supplementation, which especially in the northwest is critical due to our lack of sun exposure. Vitamin D is important because it plays a role in helping your intestines to absorb dietary calcium.
For more information, please look over our Osteoporosis handout in the handouts section of our website and discuss specific recommendations and concerns with your Emerald City physician.