Strong bones are essential for overall health and well-being. However, many people may not be aware of the factors contributing to bone strength or how to keep bones healthy. Dr. Jasdeep Sidana, MD, explains the anatomy and physiology of bones and how to maintain their maximum strength.
What are Bones Made of?
Bones are much more complex than we might think. For one, they primarily comprise collagen and calcium phosphate, two substances that give them strength and flexibility. However, bones also contain many other minerals, including potassium and magnesium, which lend their resilience and help contribute to bone density. In addition, Vitamin D is essential for bone health as it helps the body absorb calcium.
The strength and density of bones depend on the amount and quality of minerals in the bone, such as calcium and phosphorus. As the body ages, the collagen composition of bones changes; denser bones become thinner as we advance in years. With its intricate design and array of essential substances, it’s no wonder our bones provide vital support for movement and picks up most of the slack for other organs in our bodies.
How Strong are Human Bones?
Human bones are surprisingly strong and resilient, carrying hundreds of kilograms of weight without cracking. Their main structure is hydroxyapatite, a mineral that stores much of the body’s calcium and allows for the transfer of nutrients and other substances between cells. That alone gives them a significant degree of strength, but when you look closer, you can see several more aspects that make our bones sturdy.
For example, many bones possess ridges that help distribute the pressure placed on them across their surface. This means they don’t crack under strain as quickly as more superficial structures with no ridges would. Additionally, human bone tissue can heal itself if given enough time and appropriate conditions, such as warm temperatures and plenty of fluids like mineral water. Considering all these factors, it is clear why our skeletons can last us a lifetime!
How to Maintain Strong Bones and Muscles as You Age
As we age, maintaining strong bones and muscles becomes increasingly essential to maintain overall health and mobility. The risk of falls and fractures also increases with age, making it essential to improve bone and muscle strength. Here are some tips on maintaining strong bones and muscles as you age, according to Dr. Jasdeep Sidana, MD.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercise is critical to maintaining bone and muscle health. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, hiking, and strength training, help to increase bone density and muscle strength. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, most days of the week, and make sure to vary your routine to include a mix of aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises.
- Consume a Balanced Diet: Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for bone and muscle health. Ensure to consume adequate calcium, vitamin D, and protein, as these nutrients are essential for bone and muscle health. Some food sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and canned fish with bones. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as milk and cereals. Protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is also essential for bone and muscle health, as being overweight or underweight can increase the risk of fractures. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and improve overall health.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking is known to reduce bone density and muscle strength. Thus, it is essential to quit smoking immediately to protect your health.
- Get Enough Sleep: Getting adequate sleep is essential for bone and muscle health. Sleep helps to promote tissue repair and regeneration, allowing the body to repair damaged tissues and build new ones.
- Consider Supplements: Supplements may be an option if you cannot obtain sufficient nutrients from your diet. Calcium and vitamin D supplements can be helpful for individuals who have difficulty consuming these nutrients from their diet. However, it’s essential to speak with your doctor before starting any supplements, as they can interact with other medications and may have adverse effects.
When Do Bones Weaken?
Bones weaken as we age due to calcium depletion and reduced physical activity. This process is exacerbated by arthritis and osteoporosis, which reduce bone density over time. Although the effects of aging on bones cannot be prevented, building strong bones in our younger years with a healthy diet full of calcium and Vitamin D can help to slow down the weakening process. Additionally, regular exercise that builds muscle strength and increases blood flow can help strengthen bones throughout our lives. We can maintain healthy bones much longer with a nutritious diet and physical activity.
Strong bones are essential for overall health, and there are many ways to maintain and improve bone health. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a balanced lifestyle can help prevent osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions. If you are concerned about your bone health, talk to your doctor about testing and prevention strategies. You can enjoy strong and healthy bones for years to come by taking the proper steps.