Why You Need Your Calcium

Why You Need Your Calcium | motherscircle.net
Thank you to Caitlin Hoff of ConsumerSafety.org for today’s post in honor of National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. 

Among the many chores and delights of being a parent, a responsibility that was once your mother’s is now yours: encouraging your child to get their calcium. If you mother was anything like mine, a glass of milk was served nightly in your house along with clear instructions to grow strong bones and stave off the osteoporosis that runs in your family. We may laugh at this and the “got milk?” posters of our past, but osteoporosis is a real problem and it’s time we talked about bone health for the modern family.

While nearly 53 million Americans are at an increased risk for bone fractures, most people don’t know that they have osteoporosis or low bone density until they actually fracture a bone. After a certain age, we all naturally experience a decline in bone mass over time. However, a person with osteoporosis or osteopenia – when bone density is low but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis – cannot feel that their bones are weaker than normal. Only a bone density test or certain imaging scans can show your bone’s true health status. This is why it’s so important to know the risk factors that lead to osteoporosis and understand the actions we can take to prevent bone loss.

First, let’s look at the uncontrollable risk factors of the brittle bone condition. As mentioned above, as we age, we will lose bone. We obviously can’t stop aging, and on some level, we can’t fully prevent bone loss. But, we can take precautions knowing that age is against us. Another uncontrollable risk factor is gender. Around 80% of the current patients diagnosed with osteoporosis are women. There are several reasons for this discrepancy between genders, but a big factor is just bone size. Women tend to have smaller, thinner bones so losing bone mass hits women harder than most men.

By focusing on the risk factors we can control, We can make the biggest difference to protect our bone health. We already know that calcium is needed to build strong bones, but milk is not our only option. With no-dairy diets trending and an uptick in food allergies seen in children it’s important for much of the population to find calcium-rich alternatives to milk or dairy. Did you know that a cup of cooked kale has nearly as much calcium as a cup of milk? Other great sources of calcium include broccoli, almonds, salmon, and oranges. And if you’re still concerned about the amount of calcium you get daily, you can always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about taking a daily calcium supplement.

Along with calcium, you should also consider looking at your vitamin D levels as vitamin D supports calcium absorption in your body. We actually get a large amount of our vitamin D from the sun, but if you live in an area with less sunlight throughout the year, you might experience a vitamin D deficiency. There are foods you can eat with vitamin D like salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms, but many health care professionals also recommend taking a daily supplement.

You might be surprised to learn that the medications we take may also affect our bone health.. For some prescription medications, bone density loss is an adverse side effect and one that could certainly lead to bigger problems down the road. The SGLT2 inhibitor Invokana, for instance, helps many type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar when they struggle to do so with diet alone. It’s truly life-saving for some patients, but Invokana has also been linked to an increased risk of bone fractures, below-the-knee amputations, and ketoacidosis. Here is a great list of other common prescription drugs that could have an impact on the health of your bones. Talk to your doctor about all the potential side effects you might experience before taking a medication so that you can be mindful and watch for any signs of a negative reaction.

You can probably guess where we are headed next: exercise! No healthy lifestyle is complete without a bit of movement, and beyond strengthening our muscles, exercise can help us fortify our bones. Your bones carry a great deal of weight just by supporting the rest of your body through everyday activities. So, the first place to start when considering bone-strengthening activities is with weight-bearing exercises. These include running, hiking, dancing, and tennis. If you’re just starting or have already been diagnosed osteoporosis however, stick to low-impact exercises like walking or using an elliptical. You should then look into workouts that strengthen muscle. You don’t have to jump into weight-lifting right away. You can start with bodyweight workouts or using resistance bands to begin strengthening muscles slowly and effectively. These exercises will not only build muscle, but they can help improve your coordination, flexibility, and stability which are all needed to prevent future falls that could lead to bone fractures.

Osteoporosis affects approximately 10 million Americans, and it’s time we fight back. Take some time in the next month to look at your daily habits and see if there are ways you can improve your routine or your diet to do more for your bones. It’s never too early to prevent a life-altering disease. Share this information with family and friends, and protect even more people today.

Mission Statement:
ConsumerSafety.org strives to make information about recalls and safety-related news about drugs, medical devices, food, and consumer products accessible to everyone in a transparent, easily understandable way.
About the author:
As a Health & Safety Investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, Caitlin Hoff uses her background in Industrial Design and her passion for health and wellness to educate consumers. She strives to help people make smart decisions affecting their personal health and that of their families.

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