“While one should start looking after their bone health as early as when one is in the womb of the mother, it is never too late. It begins with ensuring that the pregnant lady takes care of her bones. However, one can start even in their late 50’s and early 60’s,” says Dr Harish Ghoota, Additional Director, Bone & Joints, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad.
Dr Ghoota adds that the bone is a wonderful tissue that one can work on and strengthen even when it is 80 years of age. The quality of the bones can be improved upon by dietary intake, exercise, and even certain medicines and supplements. “So start now, no matter what your age,” he says.
Calcium, phosphorous, and proteins make up the bones in our body. To make sure our bones remain strong and healthy, we all need to consume adequate amounts of all of these minerals daily.
While this is necessary, there exist other ways of strengthening our bones.
In this article, Dr Ghoota explains to us ways in which we can help our bones stay healthy.
1. Incorporating Calcium and Vitamin D
This is one of the most well known ways for boosting bone health. “The amount of calcium that one needs depends on the age group of the person. If I were to give you a rough estimate, I would say for adults it is about 1 gram of calcium a day, which translates into 250 ml of milk or milk products between two to three times a day,” informs Dr Ghoota. Other sources of calcium include – green leafy vegetables, nuts, and even tofu and soya products.
Speaking about Vitamin D and its importance for good bone health, Dr Ghoota says, “Vitamin D is unfortunately not found in any dietary sources and can only be found through direct exposure to sunlight.” To get a good dose of Vitamin D, we must spend 10 to 15 minutes outdoors twice or thrice a week.
Another source of Vitamin D is food. So consume food that has been fortified with vitamins to increase its nutritional value. Examples of such food are fortified milk and cereals, tuna, shrimp and even oysters.
2. Exercise Regularly and Consistently
Doctors world over recommend for a minimum of 30 minutes a day for overall good health. Adding to this Dr Ghoota says, “Exercising regularly will help in converting the dietary sources into calcium and that in turn helps in strengthening our bones.”
When asked what kind of exercise one should follow, he shares, “According to studies, we tell our patients that 30 minutes of exercise five days a week is good for an average individual.” Whether it is weight training or cardio, be consistent in following a schedule.
3. Do not Overindulge in Alcohol or Tobacco Consumption
“Restrict alcohol consumption to the bare minimum and do not indulge in smoking at all. Both these things are one of the reasons why you might suffer from osteoporosis, which is basically weakening of the bones.” When asked if there is a permissible limit of alcohol consumption, Dr Ghoota informs that roughly 180 ml of alcohol is advisable for a week’s consumption.
4. Get Periodic Dexa (bone density) Tests Done
Dr Ghoota recommends that everyone above the age of 50 get a basic bone mineral density test done called the Dexa test which is an X-Ray test. This test, he says, determines the bone health and quality and enables doctors to prescribe medicines or corrective measures accordingly. “This test helps in determining whether one’s bone mineral density is within the normal limits or falls under the abnormal limit bracket. Any follow up medical intervention is based on the results of this test. So do opt for it annually.”
The test costs between Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000. “The entire treatment is based on the readings of this test,” reiterates Dr Ghoota. In India, many women in the 40s and the 50s do not even realise when osteoporosis sets in until a seemingly small fall leads to a fracture. Therefore it is imperative that these tests are done periodically.
While we have taken utmost care in putting this article together, please do check with your medical practitioner before undergoing any test or taking any supplements.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)