Bone Strength at Any Age

How to Strengthen and Avoid Brittle Bones

A key concern for many people as they get older is their bones becoming weak and fragile because of the potentially incapacitating consequences that could result from a fall if bones are brittle. As bone density diminishes, and the structure of our bodies erodes with time and lack of nutrients, simple activities become more dangerous, and possibly life-threatening. Luckily, there is something you can do to prevent this from happening to you, or build back the bone strength that you once had.

Case Study

A brand new study from the Mayo Clinic found that there is an easy, effective way to strengthen your bones without the negative side effects of drugs. A research team at the Mayo Clinic tested the skeletal health of 589 men and women between the ages of 20 and 97. What they found, was that there was a clear link between bone health and one other factor- muscle mass. The more muscle people had relative to their height, the stronger their bones were at each key point tested, no matter what age the participant was.

There was a slight difference between men and women, in that men with a greater muscle-to-height ratio appeared to have greater bone strength at all key points measured, whereas women with a greater muscle-to-height ratio had greater bone strength in only the vertebrae, forearm, and shin bones. In either case, it is clear that if you’re trying to increase your bone strength, getting the right nutrients and exercise to build muscle is necessary.

Nutrients

To build muscle, you need to consume lots of lean protein. This means eating foods like quinoa, wild-caught fish, egg whites, Greek yogurt, beans, white-meat chicken, seeds, and other foods that are high in protein, and low in fat. Vitamin C is also very important, as vitamin C helps make collagen; a critical protein for forming tissues that connect muscle to bone. In addition, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K are essential for building bone strength.

Exercise

Once you have the right nutrition, it’s important to take advantage of those building blocks and focus on exercises that increase muscle growth and bone strength. The best way to do this is with resistance training. Rather than hitting the treadmill, exercise using free-weights, kettle bells, push-ups, lunges, and squats. No matter where your starting point is, doing even light-weight resistance exercises will build muscle quickly.

The combination of proper nutrients and exercise works because nutrients help keep current bones strong and weight-bearing exercises signal your body to build more bone. Building muscle mass at the same time will give you a double advantage, and help keep your bones stronger, longer.

*Study Published in LeBrasseur, N.K., et al, “Skeletal muscle mass is associated with bone geometry and microstructure and serum IGFBP-2 levels in adult women and men,” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2012.
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