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Beating Brittle Bones

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Bones
have many roles in your body: They provide structure, anchor muscles, protect
vital organs and store essential calcium. However, women’s bone development
peaks around the age of 20 and they often slowly lose bone density as they grow
older, so it’s important to maintain bone strength after that, and
weight-bearing activities like running, walking and lifting weights are great
ways to do this. Strengthening your bones will also give you more energy,
flexibility and vitality.

 

However,
many female athletes often concentrate too much on cardiovascular training and
ignore strength training, especially when they hit the gym, because they want
to lose weight but not pick up muscle mass, but this further contributes to
their loss of bone strength. On the other hand, running can also contribute to low
bone density: The more intensive your training is, the less oestrogen you
produce, which is a major cause of weakening bones. A woman training hard for a
marathon, for example, could experience a reduction in oestrogen production of
up to 50%.

 

The
secret is finding the right balance between building strength and eating right,
so to keep your structure sturdy, heed the following advice to help prevent
problems down the road.

 

1. GET YOUR VITAMINS:
Women
need a higher calcium intake than men, around 1000mg of calcium per day, and after
50, the daily requirement climbs to around 1300mg. Vitamin D is another must
for bone strength, as it helps the body absorb enough calcium, while magnesium,
vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for bone health. Therefore
make sure your diet includes these vitamins and minerals, or alternatively get
supplements to ensure your body is getting enough of them. Also, go out and get
some sun for fifteen minutes a day to up your vitamin D intake – it’ll make you
feel relaxed and more energetic.

 

2. EAT RIGHT: An easy
way to ensure bone strength is proper nutrition, so make sure these foods are
in your trolley:

?        
Dairy
products

– Considered the best source of the three essentials, calcium, vitamin D and
magnesium.

?        
Leafy
greens

Another great source of the three essentials.

?        
Nuts and
seeds

excellent source of magnesium and the omega-3 fatty acid ALA.

?        
Beans – Loaded
with magnesium and calcium.

?        
Dried
fruits

Contain compounds that enhance the body’s ability to build bone strength.

?        
Fish – Great
way to get vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

?        
Tea – Most
brews contain fluoride, flavanoids and phytoestrogens that contribute to bone
strength.

?        
Fortified
foods

Whole grain cereals, orange juice and non-dairy milks usually contain added
calcium and vitamin D.

 

3. EXERCISE: Eating for
your bones needs to be backed up by regular weight-bearing physical activities,
such as running, walking, hiking, dancing, stair climbing, weight-lifting and
racquet sports. While swimming and cycling can improve your endurance and
fitness, they are not the ultimate sports to improve bone mass density.

 

MAKE NO BONES ABOUT
IT…

We
all lose bone mass as we age, but a healthy mix of physical activity and a
nutritious diet can help you beat brittle bones. Make it a lifestyle choice to
protect your bones and you’ll be making a long-term investment in your health
and quality of life.

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