It’s a fact of life: as we age, certain health concerns come into sharper focus. Among these, falls and the resulting fractures stand out, especially for those 65 and older. However, with conscientious attention to our habits and well-being, we can navigate these prime years with confidence.
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The aging process, while inevitable, doesn’t mean an automatic surrender to fragility or a decline in quality of life. It’s entirely possible—and indeed, recommended—to continue cherishing our golden moments, whether that’s a long-anticipated vacation, a hobby, or precious time with grandchildren. The key lies in ensuring our bones and overall health are in optimal condition.
Let’s delve deeper into five robust strategies to maintain bone health and reduce the risk of fractures as we age.
1. The Twin Pillars: Calcium and Vitamin D
Our bones are remarkable structures, acting as the body’s main calcium reservoir—with a staggering 99% of the body’s calcium found there. As the years advance, it’s crucial to replenish this reservoir to counteract the natural decline in bone density.
Combining calcium with vitamin D amplifies its benefits. For individuals aged 70 and above, a daily dose of 800 IU of vitamin D is ideal. For those below 70, 600 IU should suffice.
Calcium requirements are gender-specific and age-dependent:
- Men aged 51-70: A daily target of 1000 mg
- Men aged 71 and older: Aim for 1200 mg/day
- Women aged 51 and above: 1200 mg/day is your benchmark
Consistent intake will contribute to:
- Improved bone density
- A significant reduction in fall and fracture risks
- Enhanced muscle functionality
- Balanced hormone production
- Prevention and management of osteoporosis
2. Moderation in Consumption: Limiting Alcohol and Tobacco
Both excessive alcohol consumption and smoking have been linked to bone density reduction. While occasional celebratory drinks are unlikely to pose significant harm, it’s advisable to limit alcohol to 1 to 2 drinks daily. Smoking, on the other hand, disrupts calcium absorption and bone regeneration. Thus, if one smokes, it’s worth considering a reduction strategy or cessation.
3. An Active Lifestyle: The Backbone of Bone Health
Physical activity, particularly weight-bearing exercises, is a cornerstone of bone health. Engaging in such exercises not only strengthens the bones but also enhances coordination, reducing the likelihood of falls.
Even moderate activities, such as brisk walking, climbing stairs, or dancing, can be significantly beneficial. A regimen of 20-30 minutes daily is a recommended starting point, providing bones with the stimulation they need to remain dense and robust.
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4. Home Safety: Minimizing Environmental Risks
The spaces we inhabit play a pivotal role in our safety. A few thoughtful modifications can drastically reduce the risk of falls. This includes ensuring adequate lighting, especially in frequently used pathways, and removing potential tripping hazards. Attention to footwear is equally vital; shoes should offer support and have non-slip soles for both indoor and outdoor use.
5. Nutrition: Fueling the Body Right
While it’s commonly acknowledged that our appetite might diminish with age, the importance of nutrition remains paramount. A balanced diet, rich in fish, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products (like yogurt), and soybeans, can act as a protective shield against bone deterioration.
There’s emerging evidence highlighting the benefits of yogurt in enhancing bone density and overall physical function in seniors. For those who find it challenging to consume regular meals, seeking advice from healthcare professionals regarding supplements or multivitamins might be beneficial.
Navigating the journey of aging requires a blend of awareness, proactive measures, and self-care. By integrating these strategies into daily life, the prime years can indeed be marked by strength, stability, and a continued zest for life. Remember, with the right approach, our bones can serve as a strong foundation, supporting us as we continue to explore, learn, and cherish life’s moments.
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