This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this—and it certainly won’t be the last.
If you’re taking calcium supplements or consuming a lot of calcium through your diet to protect your bones, you’re going to want to keep reading…
Study: Calcium for Stronger Bones a Hoax
Last week, studies were published in the British Medical Journal that suggested that increasing your calcium intake to strengthen bones is a hoax. There is no indication that people who consume more calcium than others have stronger, denser bones or are less likely to break their bones. And these studies echo earlier research.
Of course, your doctor and the nutritional guidelines of America would never tell you that. In fact, my doctor is always asking me about my calcium intake. But research shows that taking in increased levels of calcium has no impact—and the authors of these studies are demanding people become more informed.
What Researchers Want You to Know About Bone Health
The biggest concern about weak bones is that it makes them more prone to breaking. This is a major concern for almost anyone over the age of 60 and it is a potential life-or-death situation. Therefore, preventing falls is essential to good health.
But the best way to prevent falls and fractures is not by consuming calcium-rich foods and supplements, but by improving balance and ensuring you get the right vitamins and minerals that are proven to improve bone strength.
But before we get to what your doctor should be prescribing to protect your bone health, let me first quickly explain the importance of healthy muscles…
The muscles around your bones serve two purposes: they protect your bones from impact and they provide you with greater sturdiness. The stronger these muscles are, the greater the benefits. Muscles help you stabilize and control your body while increasing agility, speed, and balance.
Four Tips to Strengthen Muscles and Protect Bones
So here’s what you need to do to help your muscles and bones out and protect your body from damage:
1. Strengthen Your Lower-Body Muscles
If you want to prevent falls in general as you grow older, strengthening your lower-body muscles with squat movements and agility exercises is imperative.
If you have a seat or a stool at home that’s about knee height, you can perform squats. Place the stool close to something you can use for support and slowly pull your hips back and bend your knees until your bum touches the surface; make sure your knees don’t go past your toes and keep your midsection tight. When it does, stand back up by contracting your leg muscles. As you get better and stronger, you can stop using a support. Eventually, you won’t even need the stool! Perform 10 to 12 repetitions, three times per session.
Agility exercises can be performed by placing some items in a pattern on the floor. At first, set about five things in a line and step over them. Go back and forth over them five times. You can also make a box and shuffle sideways from one to the other. Lastly, you can create a zigzag pattern with six to eight items and criss-cross up and down them. Perform these slowly at first; as you become accustomed to it, you can increase the speed.
2. Eat More Potassium and Vitamin K-Rich Foods
Boosting the amount of leafy greens in your diet is also recommended, as they are high in potassium and vitamin K—both of which are proven to be beneficial to bone health and improving or sustaining bone strength.
Aside from leafy greens like spinach, some other good dietary options for potassium and vitamin K include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beef liver, eggs, and green tea.
3. Get More Sunshine
Getting at least 20 to 60 minutes of sun per day is also recommended. The vitamin D you’ll absorb through your skin from the sun’s rays is linked to strong, healthy bones. The amount of time you should spend outside depends on how dark your skin is, so people with fairer skin should stick to the lower end of the time range, while those with darker skin can spend a little more time outside to ensure adequate absorption.
4. Get Adequate Protein
Finally, eating an adequate amount of protein—at least one gram per pound of your body weight per day—helps ensure you don’t lose any muscle mass. Although it doesn’t build strong bones, it helps build and protect muscle. And as mentioned, strong muscles are the most important aspect of ensuring bone health.
Save your money on calcium supplements and don’t believe the hype! Instead, follow the above five tips to ensure your bones stay safe and healthy into old age.
Read Next :
- Exercise to Strengthen Your Bones
Sources for Today’s Article:
Bolland, M.J., et al., “Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review,” BMJ 2015; 351: h4580.
Weeks, C., “More calcium doesn’t reduce fracture risks or boost bone health: studies,” Globe and Mail web site, last updated September 30, 2015; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/more-calcium-doesnt-reduce-fracture-risks-or-boost-bone-health-studies/article26590744/?click=sf_globefb, last accessed October 7, 2015.