Ask Sofia: Why do I keep hearing about bone density?
Bone density is an important topic that sometimes falls by the wayside. Simply put, bone density measures the amount of minerals—chiefly calcium and phosphorus—in your bones. Bone density is critical to injury prevention and healthy aging.
A bone density or DEXA scan can measure the minerals in your bones to determine how strong and thick they are and may be recommended after age 65, depending on risk factors for osteoporosis.
Bones become thinner over time, and a simple fall can lead to a serious injury. You can never regain lost bone density, but you can maintain what you have through a few simple steps.
- Calcium and vitamin D. We all know that calcium helps build strong bones, but you may not know how important vitamin D is to absorbing that calcium. Post-menopausal women are recommended to get 1,200 milligrams of calcium and at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily to support stronger bones. You can take supplements or aim to get most of your calcium through foods, such as milk, yogurt, fortified orange juice and spinach, and vitamin D through egg yolks, fortified dairy products and saltwater fish.
- Strength training. When we stress our bodies, they can build strength. Weight lifting, walking, jogging and cycling can all bolster bone strength—among many other benefits!
- No smoking. Nicotine counteracts medications and bone strength, and alcohol should only be enjoyed in moderation. Women who smoke and drink in excess can see up to 8 percent decrease in bone density per year, according to the WebMD.
“Bone density and strength are so important throughout our lifetimes, but especially as we age,” said Dr. David Clay. “Maintaining a healthy weight, eating foods that support strong bones and staying active can all help you stay healthy for years and years to come.”