Maybe you have a family history of osteoporosis or maybe you were recently surprised to learn that you have osteoporosis during a bone scan. Possibly, you haven’t been thinking about it at all. If you haven’t been thinking about it, it might surprise you that 1 in 4 senior women have osteoporosis. While men have a lower risk, 6% of senior men have osteoporosis. (1) Lots of us need to be thinking of how to reduce osteoporosis and increase bone density!
Osteoporosis is porous bone, or when the bones become fragile and brittle as the quality of bone is reduced. The body is pretty good at building up bone when we are young, but aging can mean bone loses mass faster than it builds it up. You don’t have to wait until you are diagnosed with osteoporosis to start supporting your body for building bone density. If you have been diagnosed it’s not too late to get started either. We have 5 ways to support your body to reduce osteoporosis and increase bone density.
1- Skip the Calcium Supplements for Your Bone Health
You thought I was going to tell you to take your calcium supplements, didn’t you? Unfortunately, this is what a lot of people are told. Calcium supplements don’t get absorbed by the bones like you think they do. There are a few reasons for that. The body can’t absorb the high amounts of calcium, and calcium can be used by the body to increase the inflammatory process which makes it hard to absorb. In fact, calcium supplements have been associated with harmful conditions like heart disease, kidney stones, and osteoarthritis. (2) It can even interfere with your body’s absorption of other minerals like iron and zinc. Learn more about why you should stop taking calcium in our article, and stop taking a supplement that is distracting you from what you really need to do.
2- Try Bone Broth Instead
A better supplement for building bone density is bone broth. I recommend bone broth to my patients for a variety of benefits including building bone density. Unlike calcium supplements, this supplement has the nutrients and minerals needed to build bones and ligaments. It is estimated that between 30-40% of bone is actually collagen. Collagen is what your body needs, and it is no longer commonly found in the American diet. It is found in high amounts in bone broth and is an easy way to incorporate collagen and all the other nutrients into your diet.
3- Practice Regular Weight Bearing Exercise to Build Bone Density
A lot of seniors, and others, try water aerobics and other pool activities as they get older because it’s easier on the joints. It takes the weight off the joints if you are in pain, but if you want to increase bone density it has to be weight bearing exercise. Gravity needs to be affecting you to increase bone density, so you don’t get the same results when you’re buoyant in the pool. Activities that include full body resistance like weight lifting, tennis, or yoga are much better for building bone density.
4- Keep Healthy Hormone Levels
Healthy hormone levels are key for good bone density especially in women, but it can affect both genders. The balance of estrogen and progesterone is very important for women to keep an eye on throughout their life. At menopause it becomes an issue because many women start to lose estrogen. When you lose estrogen, you lose bone density. (3)
While research has shown the low estrogen can effect bone density, there is no evidence that taking artificial hormones or birth control can help. That’s why it’s important to test and balance your hormones with a practitioner that is going to take a whole-body approach.
5- Eat Your Fruits and Veggies to Build Healthy Bones
There are so many benefits to eating your fruits and vegetables. One of those benefits is better bone density. Your body needs a variety of minerals and nutrients to build bones, and the best way to get those is a varied diet that includes plants. One study looked at the fruit and veggie intake of a few thousand Chinese men and women and found that higher fruit and veggie intake had positive results. They had higher bone mass density and lower incidence of osteoporosis. (4)
Bonus Way to Build Bone Density
We are big fans of the vibe plate and whole body vibration. It improves circulation and is a great way to increase your bone density. One study showed that it increased bone density in post menopausal and older women. (5)
Make Efforts Daily to Build Bone Density and Reduce Osteoporosis
It’s amazing what the body can do over our lifetimes to build and repair itself. Our role in all this is to support the body. You need to make sure you’re giving your body what it needs daily to reduce osteoporosis and build bone density. Proper nutrients, exercise and balanced hormones are critical for the body to work its magic. There is no magic pill, or supplement, that can take the place of giving the body what it needs daily.