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Tips to Keeping Your Bones Healthy

Tips to Keeping Your Bones Healthy

Bones play many roles in the body — providing structure, protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium. While it's particularly important to take steps to build strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, you can take steps during adulthood to protect bone health, too.

Why is bone health important?

Your bones are continuously changing — new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you're young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases. After that, bone remodeling continues, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain.

What affects bone health?

A number of factors can affect bone health:1

  • Calcium in your diet. A low calcium diet contributes to low bone density; early bone loss and can lead to an increased risk of fractures.
  • Regular exercise. People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do their more-active counterparts.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use. Research suggests that tobacco may contribute to weak bones. Excessive alcohol may affect bone health as alcohol can interfere with the body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Gender, size and age. Women have a higher risk to osteoporosis because women generally have less bone tissue than men. A person with a thin body frame is also at risk as they have less bone mass to draw from with age.
  • Race and family history. Caucasians and Asians have a higher risk osteoporosis. Also, having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis also increases the risk of having osteoporosis.
  • Eating disorders and other conditions. People who have eating disorders are at risk of bone loss. Stomach surgery (gastrectomy) and weight-loss surgery can also affect the body's ability to absorb calcium.
References: 
1. Office of the Surgeon General (2004) .Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004.