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  • Writer's pictureWilson Bunton

Ways to Build and Maintain Healthy Bones and Joints

Our bones play many important roles in our bodies including providing structure and support, protecting our organs, and acting as mineral storage for calcium and phosphorus. Our joints provide us with movement and stability as well. Since our bones and joints work together to fulfill vital needs in our bodies, it’s important to continue to build and maintain them as best we can. Here are some tips to help you keep your bones and joints healthy.

Did You Know? Bones are always remodeling themselves by destroying old bone cells and creating new ones to take their place. When you are young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone but as an adult, you begin to break down bone cells faster than you generate new ones.

What Role Does Nutrition Play? Good nutrition throughout life plays a vital role in building strong and healthy bones as well as keeping your bones strong in your adult years. Calcium and vitamin D are two necessary nutrients needed to build and maintain strong bones. Low intake of calcium and vitamin D during growth may negatively affect bone mass, leading to fragile bones and an increased risk of fractures. Calcium is also important for heartbeat regulation, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, regulation of blood pressure, and immune system function. Our bones store about 99% of our calcium and when the body does not get enough calcium from the diet, it pulls it out of the bones to support the body’s other functions. When too much calcium is pulled out of bones, the bones become brittle and fragile, so it is important to get enough calcium from our diet or supplements.

Where Can I Get Calcium? Although dairy products are the most well-known sources of calcium, it’s not healthy to solely rely on milk, yogurt, and cheese to supply your calcium needs. Other foods like fish, leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds also contain a good amount of calcium, and adding these foods to your diet can increase your calcium intake. Excess calcium from supplements can be harmful if you already get enough calcium from a well-rounded diet. If you do not get enough calcium from your diet alone, calcium supplements can help you reach your goal calcium intake. Recommended Daily Amount of Calcium

  • Men 19-70 years old 1,000 mg

  • Men 71 and older 1,200 mg

  • Women 19-50 years old 1,000 mg

  • Women 51 and older 1,200 mg

Where Can I Get Vitamin D? Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium, so pairing calcium-rich foods with foods high in vitamin D such as egg yolks, shiitake mushrooms, fortified kinds of milk and cereals, and oily fish such as salmon, trout, whitefish, sardines, and canned tuna will help the absorption of calcium from your food. Safe sun exposure is another way to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. Recommended Daily Amount of Vitamin D

  • Adults ages 19 to 70 600 international units (IUs)

  • Adults 71 and older 800 IUs

How To Keep Bones Strong Physical activity is also essential to keeping your bones strong. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss. Stretching is very important both before and after exercising because tightness in one area can lead to stress in another.

How To Keep Joints Healthy Maintaining a healthy weight is important for healthy joints. The more weight our body carries around on a daily basis, the more stress is put on our joints. Exercising can help maintain a healthy weight, decrease inflammation in our body, and can help build strong muscles to support joints. If your joints ache when exercising, try low-impact activities such as bicycling or swimming. Smoking and excessive alcohol use should be avoided since use can contribute to more inflammation in our bodies, causing increased joint pain and weakened bones.

Supplement Use For Joint Health Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are both commonly taken to promote joint health. Both substances are found naturally in the body and help to cushion and insulate joints. Research shows that supplements that contain natural or synthetic glucosamine and chondroitin may provide protective benefits and support the proper function of the joints. Medical providers may recommend supplements to individuals with arthritis or joint pain/inflammation. You can choose from individual glucosamine and chondroitin supplements and combination supplements that provide some of each substance. In conclusion, a healthy, balanced diet paired with an exercise routine can greatly improve bone and joint strength and maintain proper function. Adding supplements to your diet can be beneficial and guidance from a medical practitioner or pharmacist may help ensure you are taking the right amounts for your body. Interested in learning more about why bone and joint health is important? Check out these resources.

The pharmacists at Shaffer Pharmacy are happy to answer any questions about over-the-counter (OTC) supplements as well as offer tips for a healthy diet and exercise routine to support your bones and joints.

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