Nutrition and Better Bone Health

Posted on March 8, 2023 in Diet, Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Bone Health by Dr. Joshua Hackel

March is National Nutrition Month, and as part of the conversation, the North Florida Bone & Joint team wants to emphasize the impact diet can have on your bone health. Before diving in, it's essential to understand the role the skeleton plays in your body. Specifically, the skeleton—and the bones its comprised of—serve the following functions:

  • Store and supply calcium as needed for all the cells and organs of the body when dietary sources are not adequate,
  • Physically support the body via muscle attachments, allowing us to move and use our limbs, trunk and head,
  • Enclose and protect our vital organs; and
  • Provide space for bone marrow, where all blood and bone cells are made.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, childhood and adolescence are the ideal time to focus on increasing bone mass. Considering most of us reach our peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 30, building healthy bones at a young age helps prevent issues as we age.

A gradual loss of bone mass generally begins around age 35, with women ultimately losing 30% to 50% of their bone density while men lose 20% to 30%. By age 50, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that half of all Americans have "weak" bones. However, regardless of age or gender, diet management can help you develop a framework for healthy bones.

Here are a few key nutritional factors to consider as you make your way toward better bone health, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS):

  • Our bones become weak and more likely to break if we do not include nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium in our diets. Vitamins D, K, and A are also needed for normal bone metabolism.
  • Calcium and vitamin D work hand-in-hand. The skeleton serves as our body's primary storage bank for calcium, while Vitamin D helps our bodies effectively absorb the calcium we need from our diets. Vitamin D is also necessary to help bone-forming cells mineralize bone proteins into hard tissue.
  • Calcium is removed from the skeleton if we do not have enough of it in our diets to supply what is required by the body's cells. Bone diseases, especially Osteoporosis, can be worsened by a lack of calcium and other minerals.
  • Dairy products like yogurt and cheese, as well as cereals, soy products, and green leafy vegetables, are excellent sources of calcium. Calcium supplements can also help if you avoid dairy products.

Don't forget that regular weight-bearing exercise is also vital to the health of your bones. Activities such as brisk walking and hiking, jogging and/or running, dancing, jumping rope, tennis, ping pong, pickleball, basketball, soccer, volleyball and stair climbing all stimulate bones and can ultimately help strengthen them.

If you are concerned with bone loss or have experienced a fracture or other musculoskeletal system issue, visit us online and learn more about Dr. Josh Hackel and the common conditions he treats. You can also complete our convenient online appointment request or call 850.916.3700 to schedule a visit.

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