Your bones play an important role in your health, providing structure, protecting organs, supporting muscles, and storing calcium. As you age, your bone health becomes an important component of your overall health.
“Osteoporosis and degenerative joint disease are among the most common bone health issues seniors face,” says Barry Veazey, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Joseph Health Orthopaedic Associates. The good news is there are steps you can take now toward prevention.
“The most important ways to help prevent these issues are exercise, weight control, and an appropriate diet,” said Dr. Veazey. “Vitamin D and calcium can also help.”
Why Bone Health is Important
According to the National Institutes of Health, our bodies routinely break down old bones and put new bones in their place. As we age, our bodies may begin to break down more bone than they develop.
Osteoporosis occurs when your bones become soft and are more likely to break. For many patients, the first sign of osteoporosis is a broken bone.
Another common bone issue, degenerative joint disease, can develop with wear and tear on the joints. More than 50% of adults over the age of 65 are affected by degenerative joint disease, which can cause pain, loss of function, and reduced endurance.
Improve Your Bone Health
Dr. Veazey says the number one factor in bone health is a healthy weight. “Exercise is also quite important,” he said. “It increases your bone density and improves the range of motion of your joints.” Even if arthritis develops, it will be less symptomatic, and you’ll have highly mobile joints, as opposed to highly stiff joints.”
You can also support bone health by including plenty of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet or taking a supplement. For adults aged 19 to 50 and men aged 51 to 70, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1,000 mg of calcium a day. For women after age 50 and men after age 70, the RDA is 1,200 mg per day. Soy and dairy products, almonds, broccoli, and kale are good sources of calcium.
Adults aged 19 to 70 have an RDA of 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D, and ages 71 and older need 800 IUs per day.
Dr. Veazey advises exercising caution when it comes to unproven treatments available in healthcare and over the internet. “Beware of these treatments, and carefully research them before consuming them,” he said.
Talk to Your Doctor
You can be proactive about your bone health by talking to your primary care doctor. “Osteoporosis can sometimes be seen in scans that are done after a certain age,” said Dr. Veazey. Additionally, a primary care doctor or OB/GYN may be able to prescribe bone-building drugs to help protect you from further bone loss.
“Sometimes, the first indication of soft bones is a fracture,” said Dr. Veazey. “If this happens, go to an orthopedic specialist. Most specialists do not need a referral.”
For more information on bone health or to schedule a visit with an orthopedic specialist, visit our website or call 979-696-3344.
Dr. Barry Veazey, Orthopedic Surgeon, St. Joseph Health Orthopaedics Associates
National Insitutes of Health, Bone Health for Life
Mayo Clinic, Bone Health