Protect your bones
When it comes to osteoporosis, it’s never too early to start protecting yourself and a few simple changes could really help.
Sunshine provides 90% of the vitamin D our bones need, so take advantage of it when it does appear. You need to build up your supplies during the summer, aim for two 10-minute sun breaks a day between May and September, without sunscreen, to allow skin to soak up the sun and strengthen bones naturally. Your body makes vitamin D from the action of UVB rays in sunlight on your skin.
There are very few dietary sources of vitamin D, oily fish, eggs and fortified margarines or cereals are the main ones – but even eating these every day won’t give you enough from your diet alone. Although learning about the foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are important for your bone health and overall health will help you make healthier food choices every day.
You don’t need daily vitamin D, because your body can store it for several months. So, in theory, it is possible to build up stores in the Summer to last you through the dark Winter months. The level of UVB from the sun is affected by cloudy weather, pollution, sunscreen and clothing, which stop those vital rays from reaching your body.
A BMI of less than 19 is a risk factor for osteoporosis, so think slim but not skinny.
80% of bone health is inherited – so your mum’s broken hip could affect your health. But having a father who fractures a bone, as one in five older men do, also increases your risk.
Resistance exercise such as weight training tones muscles and strengthens bones. Using your own body weight such as in press ups can improve the bone density in the forearm. If you’re fit and active, aim for three sessions a week, leaving a rest day in between to let your body recover.