What you eat, how you take care of yourself, all of the decisions you make in your twenties will affect your future skeletal strength (ie bone density). But that doesn’t mean it’s too late after your twenties to start improving things!
There are two ways to build bone density:
-Get enough calcium— 1000 mg before age 50 and 1200 mg after.
-Weight bearing exercise (meaning swimming doesn’t count).
Most doctors will advise you to eat your calcium. Calcium rich foods like dairy (low fat is more concentrated with it), almonds, leafy greens, and salmon offer more than just calcium for your diet. It’s also important to spread your calcium intake throughout the day so that your body is better able to absorb it, and food is an easy way to do it.
Still, most people aren’t eating enough calcium rich foods daily (especially if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan). A calcium supplement can help support and build your bone density. There’s a big gap between the best calcium supplements which are made with a form that’s bioavailable (easy for your body to absorb) and cheap supplements made from compounded calcium.
Nighttime is great time to give your body a calcium supplement, especially if you have dairy with breakfast (milk, cheese, yogurt).
A note on measuring bone density: the most important thing is preventing breaks, since they can significantly decrease quality of life (and subsequent longevity) when you’re older. If a regular spill (say, tripping in the garden) breaks or fractures a bone, that’s a definite sign your bone density is lower than it should be.
Bone density tests are often used as tests BEFORE a fall, unfortunately, they aren’t that reliable. The machines used aren’t made to a universal calibration, and aren’t often calibrated after being sold. The calibration that is used is for a twenty something white woman (it should be based on bone density data from multiple ages, races, and locations). Bone density will naturally wane a little with age, during the winter (probably because people get less Vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption), in different climates and altitudes.
The only good thing is that a bad result from a bone density test will only lead to a recommendation to take a good calcium supplement, and that’s easy enough!
What’s your favorite calcium rich recipe?