How can we keep our bones healthy?
As we age, our bones and joints can become weaker which can affect our ability to move like we once used to. Issues with movement and bone strength can be caused by underlying conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis. This handout provides information about what we can do to keep our bones healthy:
- Calcium and Vitamin D supplements may be useful above the age of 50 years old, especially for women. In general, 1000-1200mg of elemental Calcium and 800-1200 International Units of Vitamin D are recommended on a daily basis for bone health. You can find both of these elements in certain foods you eat but in order to assess your daily intake and the safety of these for your specific health conditions, please talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
- Regular weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercise can help reduce the risk of falls and fractures while improving the mobility of our joints.
- Aerobic (water) exercises are easier on the joints and are effective in relieving joint pain too. Tai chi is another exercise that has shown promise in helping with knee pain
- If you are overweight or obese, weight loss through healthy diet and exercise can decrease the amount of stress placed on your joints, and improve your mobility.
- You can protect your bones and joints by using walkers, canes, braces or tape to provide them with more support. In addition to this, wearing shock absorbing, comfortable footwear in the right size and with proper arch support can also help reduce the impact on your joints.
- If you are a current smoker, consider quitting smoking to reduce your chance of developing bone health issues. If you are a BC resident, the government has a program that can help you on this journey. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn information about this program or visit https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/what-we-cover/drug-coverage/bc-smoking-cessation-program
- Decrease your alcohol intake to less than 2 drinks/day for men and 1drink/day for women as it can increase your risk of falling. Increased falls have been linked to fractures and loss of bone.
- To prevent falls, minimize any hazards around your house such as loose rugs and also ensure adequate lighting, especially if you need to walk around your house at night.
- Certain medications (such a blood pressure medications, sleep medications) can also cause dizziness and increase your risk of falling. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medications, as well as any natural or non prescription products you are using.
- Talk to your doctor about your fracture risk or a bone mineral density scan as this can help detect osteoporosis and inform you about your risk factors for fractures. It is also important that you talk to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist before starting a new exercise regimen to make sure it is safe for you.