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Boost Your Bone Strength

7 surprising ways to increase density


spinner image 7 Surprising Ways to Strengthen Your Bones
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Get Stronger

Vitamin D is a critical bone-building nutrient. It improves absorption of calcium from the gut, helps increase bone density and enhances muscle function, reducing the risk of falls and fractures. Trouble is, it’s tough to get adequate D from food alone. A glass of milk supplies only about 100 international units (IUs), but the Institute of Medicine’s most recent recommendations call for 600 IUs daily. The solution: 15 minutes in the sun. That’s all you need to make enough vitamin D for your body, while avoiding the risk of skin cancer.

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spinner image soak up the sun to get bone-building vitamin D
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Soak up some sun

Your mother was right — you should eat your vegetables. Especially dark, leafy greens, such as collards, kale, spinach and bok choy, which are good sources of calcium, as well as bone-building nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and vitamin K. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that people ages 45 to 83 who shunned plant foods had an 88 percent higher rate of hip fracture compared with those who ate the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

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Jump for joy

People who drink moderately — no more than one drink a day for women, two for men — have higher bone density than nondrinkers or heavy drinkers, recent studies have found. Beer may be particularly helpful because it contains dietary silicon, a nutrient vital for bone strength — but stick to one or two drinks. More than that can weaken bone-building cells, Deal says.

spinner image a couple eating leafy greens for bone health
Alexandra Iakovleva

Eat your veggies

A diet high in grains and bread may be bad for your bones. Research from Tufts University suggests the sulfur compounds in grains can increase the body’s acidity and trigger bone loss. To get the most bang for your bone-building buck, don’t go overboard on grains; focus instead on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, which can counteract acidity.

spinner image drinking alcohol moderately may increase bone density
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Have a little alcohol

By the time we reach 50, both men and women are losing bone mass, thanks to a slowdown in the body’s bone-rebuilding process. Diet and lack of exercise can also play a role. Women can lose up to 5 percent of their bone mass in the first six years following menopause, thanks to a loss of estrogen, says Chad Deal, M.D., head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease at the Cleveland Clinic. That means women can lose more than 20 percent of bone density in less than a decade with complications ranging from osteoporosis to fractures and falls.
Good news: You can reduce this threat by developing the following bone-strengthening habits.

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Eva Katalin Kondoros

Eat prunes

By the time we reach 50, both men and women are losing bone mass, thanks to a slowdown in the body’s bone-rebuilding process. Diet and lack of exercise can also play a role. Women can lose up to 5 percent of their bone mass in the first six years following menopause, thanks to a loss of estrogen, says Chad Deal, M.D., head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease at the Cleveland Clinic. That means women can lose more than 20 percent of bone density in less than a decade with complications ranging from osteoporosis to fractures and falls.
Good news: You can reduce this threat by developing the following bone-strengthening habits.

spinner image a high grain diet could trigger bone loss
Philip Wilkins

Go easy on bread and grains

By the time we reach 50, both men and women are losing bone mass, thanks to a slowdown in the body’s bone-rebuilding process. Diet and lack of exercise can also play a role. Women can lose up to 5 percent of their bone mass in the first six years following menopause, thanks to a loss of estrogen, says Chad Deal, M.D., head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease at the Cleveland Clinic. That means women can lose more than 20 percent of bone density in less than a decade with complications ranging from osteoporosis to fractures and falls.
Good news: You can reduce this threat by developing the following bone-strengthening habits.

spinner image getting sufficient sleep may improve bone health
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Get more sleep

By the time we reach 50, both men and women are losing bone mass, thanks to a slowdown in the body’s bone-rebuilding process. Diet and lack of exercise can also play a role. Women can lose up to 5 percent of their bone mass in the first six years following menopause, thanks to a loss of estrogen, says Chad Deal, M.D., head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease at the Cleveland Clinic. That means women can lose more than 20 percent of bone density in less than a decade with complications ranging from osteoporosis to fractures and falls.
Good news: You can reduce this threat by developing the following bone-strengthening habits.

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By the time we reach 50, both men and women are losing bone mass, thanks to a slowdown in the body’s bone-rebuilding process. Diet and lack of exercise can also play a role. Women can lose up to 5 percent of their bone mass in the first six years following menopause, thanks to a loss of estrogen, says Chad Deal, M.D., head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease at the Cleveland Clinic. That means women can lose more than 20 percent of bone density in less than a decade with complications ranging from osteoporosis to fractures and falls.
Good news: You can reduce this threat by developing the following bone-strengthening habits.

Is high intensity interval training right for you? Find out how it's beneficial for older adults.

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