With the fast pace of modern life, our bones aren't necessarily something we think about on a daily basis.
But with over three million people in the U.K. suffering from conditions related to poor bone health, it is more important than ever to consider signs of weakness. Elisabeth Clare of MBST UK has shared four simple ways to improve bone health.
Ensure you are getting enough vitamin D
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin, and can also be found in some foods, such as oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods.
"Those living in less sunny climates are often more likely to suffer from poor bone health, as vitamin D helps the body to absorb vitamin C, and in turn, calcium," she explained. "In some cultures and religions, some women have less access to vitamin D due to the clothes they have to wear or because their diet limits calcium intake."
Officials at the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) recommend everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months.
You are what you eat
Studies have shown that the microbiome has an impact on metabolism. Taking magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin C supplements, as well as prebiotics, can help us absorb and retain minerals from food to increase bone density and strength.
"There are also lots of foods that are great for bone health. These include tinned fish, wild salmon, milk, cheese, and for those who would rather not eat animal products, green leafy veg such as broccoli, cabbage and kale, figs, tofu, and nuts," said Elisabeth. "More and more dairy-free milk alternatives are fortified with vital vitamins, but it's worth getting into the habit of checking the packaging to make sure."
Lifestyle and exercise
In addition to diet, lifestyle changes can help contribute to bone health.
"Consuming less alcohol, quitting smoking, and eating foods high in calcium will help to boost your bone health," the expert continued. "Exercise should also be incorporated into your daily routine. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical training machines, stair climbing and gardening. These types of exercises work directly on the bones in your legs, hips, and lower spine to slow mineral loss. They also provide cardiovascular benefits, which boost heart and circulatory system health."
The earlier the better
Our bones reach their peak in our thirties, so try to make changes as early as possible to reduce bone thinning.
"With prevention and new technologies, we can increase our bone strength. The later we leave anything, the harder it is to reverse it," she added. "In a system where we won't even know if we have osteoporosis, it is worth keeping on top of our health, not only to look good and feel good but also to prevent these silent diseases."