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How to Have Healthy Bones

by Dr. Jason Barker December 12, 2016

How to Have Healthy Bones

As an athlete, you might not be too concerned about your bone density. And to some extent, you shouldn’t have to be. But, not all athletes are automatically given a pass when it comes to having good bone density!

As you’ve probably heard by now, women are at greater risk for thinning bones as they age. Their bones are highly dependent on estrogen, and once menopause occurs, bone loss will really accelerate.

Men have the advantage in testosterone, as they (generally) have thicker bones and don’t necessarily go through a hormonal shift as dramatic as menopause (but guys do have andropause, which is another story). But, men who don’t engage in weight bearing exercise are also at risk of thinning bones with age.

Here are some of the most important factors that many active and athletic people ignore when it comes to bone health:

1. Weight Bearing Exercise: What It Is, and What It Isn’t

I know you’ve heard of weight bearing exercise, but what does that mean exactly? Weight bearing exercises are those during which the majority of your time is spent on your feet. Think running, dancing, racquet sports, hiking, tennis, Tai Chi, yoga and walking. The only real exception to this is weight training, which all doesn’t need to be performed while bearing weight on your feet, per se.

Any other exercise just won’t give you the full effect that weight bearing exercise will. Swimming and cycling, while great for their cardio effect, won’t do much for bone strength. In fact, swimmers and cyclists are two main groups of athletes that are more prone to thinning bones because of the overemphasis on these sports and generally not enough on weight bearing.

If you’re a full time swimmer or cyclist, consider adding at least 2 days of strength training and or running (gasp!) each week.

2. Diet

Have you heard the term “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”? Well the same can be said for calcium supplementation and bone health. You can’t just pop a bunch of calcium supplements and expect to have healthy bones.

There are a handful of other nutrients that are just as important as calcium, and actually improve your body’s incorporation of it into your bones. Yes, calcium is important but so are other nutrients, which you’ll only find in a diet rich in plant foods.

No, you don’t need to become a vegetarian, but like always we encourage you to eat a diet rich in plants for several reasons and bone health is a great example of

this. Here are the other important nutrients you need for great bone health.

And, if you’ve got thin bones or are at risk, supplementation with calcium and these other important nutrients is a good idea. Osteo Formula contains the best-absorbed form of calcium, ipriflavone, horsetail concentrate, boron, vanadium, vitamin K2 and vitamin D.  Supplementation should always be in conjunction with a good diet!

3. Watch Those Medications

There are several types of medications that have a bone-thinning effect. The most common are the proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) - these drugs are typically used to treat GERD, or acid reflux.  Its theorized these medications, by the way they block acid production, don’t allow for absorption of calcium and when used over the long term, can lead to bone thinning. If you have GERD, here are other ways to treat acid reflux naturally.

There are lots of other drugs that can thin your bones. Glucocorticoids (cortisone, prednisone) are typically used to treat arthritis, asthma, lupus, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. These are notorious for bone thinning, and should really only be used a short term solution for the above conditions.

Others types of drugs that can damage your bones include some used to treat epilepsy, antidepressants and hormone modifiers for cancer.

Lastly, people taking excess thyroid hormone replacement may be at risk. If you take too much thyroid medication, or on the flip side have an overactive thyroid gland, this can contribute to rapid bone thinning.  Ideally, you get your thyroid hormone levels check fairly frequently if you’re taking medication! Otherwise, appropriate dosing of thyroid hormone won’t harm your bones.

Minding your diet, performing some strength training and doing a thorough review of your medications that might contribute to bone loss with your doctor are 3 important steps you can take to keep those bones nice and strong!

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker

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