Bone Health 101: Maintaining Strong Bones

Hi there. I'm Doctor. Keller Wortham with another home edition of house call. And they say you need three things in life to succeed. A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.

Well, I would have to agree that all three are important. But regardless of which bones you think you need, just make sure that they are strong. In this video, I am going to talk about the strength of bones, the less proverbial ones, and more actual ones, and how to keep them strong and reduce the risk of age related fractures.

We all know bones are important. They give us structure. They protect our organs. They anchor our muscles for movement.

It's obvious that we need to keep them healthy, but it might not be as obvious how to do that. Now, the optimum time to build strong bones is when we are young because we reach a maximum bone strength and bone density at about age thirty and then it all starts to decline.

Now although we think of bones as solid cement like structures, bones are actually a living tissue. They have cells that are constantly turning over bone material, building new bone and resorbing all bone. And this is important to help adjust to a growing body or to repair a bone fracture. And also because bones serve as a storage area for minerals that your body needs, like calcium.

So when calcium levels drop in the body and in the blood, the body raids the bones to get more. Your bones kind of serve as a calcium bank. And much like a real bank where you have deposits and withdrawals, if you were withdrawing more calcium than your depositing, you can end up in bone debt. And bone debt is not a good place to be.

The amount of calcium we have in our bones, and therefore how strong they are is referred to as bone density.

Now we all lose a certain amount of bone density as we age, but even with that, we can still have what is considered a normal bone density. But if that density decreases further due to things like inadequate nutrition or hormonal changes or lack of exercise, you can end up with a critically low bone density. And the term for that is osteopenia or even osteoporosis osteoporosis is where your bones are weak enough that they put you at a significantly higher risk of fracture.

Now osteoporosis is a silent disease. You might not know you have it. Of course, until you break a bone, and then it can often be too late. Osteoporosis is more common in women due to things like hormonal changes in menopause, less body mass, and less physical activity. Which is important. I'm going to talk about that in a moment. So how do you diagnose osteoporosis?

Well, you can diagnose osteoporosis by something called a dexa scan. Which looks at bone density. And it compares your bone density with that of the ideal bone density. So, basically, you have a thirty year old.

You should ask your doctor to order a dexa scan at the age of sixty five or even earlier if you have certain other conditions that puts you at higher risk. So you can know where you stand and then can prevent further bone loss. But it's never too early to start strengthening your bones or main obtaining the density that you already have. Which is why I wanna tell you right now four things that you can do to maintain strong bones.

Number one, nutrition.

It is so important to have good nutrition for your bone health, especially calcium and vitamin D. You need both of these in your diet to have healthy bone development. For calcium, eat dairy products, like milk, yogurt, or vegetables like broccoli, or berries, or sardines.

For vitamin B, you can also eat fish, or you can eat fortified dairy products that include vitamin D. Number two, avoid unnecessary long term use of certain medications that can deplete calcium or hinder its absorption. These include things like steroids or SSRIs, which are often used to treat depression, or the PPIs, those are antacids like omeprazole. These can again, inhibit the absorption of calcium and make less available for your bones. Number three, sometimes you need a bone building medication. If you're already at a critical level of osteoporosis, you maybe prescribe a medication by your doctor. Sometimes a weekly pill, and sometimes even a monthly injection.

But four, and the most important, for me, is exercise.

Bones respond to force. Gravity is one of those forces. So we need gravity to encourage bones to mineralize.

That's why astronauts in space start to lose bone density because they don't have gravity. However, another important way to create force across the bones is from the muscle bone connection.

Stronger muscles put a stress on the bones, and then the bones respond in turn by increasing their density.

So one way to make use of both muscle tension and gravity is to do weight bearing exercises.

The best types of these exercises provide resistance with some impact, and they're a little bit higher velocity. These include things like running or brisk walking, hiking or plyometrics, which involves jumping, or even vigorous sports, or even yoga.

So our main goal in increasing and preserving bone mass and density is to reduce the risk of fractures.

Keep your bones strong and your muscles strong, especially as you age, and you can make a big stride at reducing osteoporosis and therefore reducing the risk of fracture.

Remember, bones are a living tissue. Care for them give them the building blocks they need in the form of calcium and vitamin D and the other minerals that are important for bone health, and give them the exercise they need. And avoid things that can weaken them, like unnecessary steroids or antacids.

And then at the end, you know, make sure that you talk to your doctor about when a dexa bone density scan is right for you. So you can be on top of it and know how your bone health measures up to other people. I'm Doctor. Keller Wortham. Thanks so much for hanging out. This has been another home edition of house call, and I look forward to seeing you real soon.