Tips on Tuesday: Bone Up, Ladies.

Did you know that May is National Osteoporosis Month? (It’s also National Bike Month, Mediterranean Diet Month and National Mental Health Awareness Month…but I have nothing to contribute to those topics. NOTHING.)

Earlier in the month, when I was contacted about sharing an infographic for National Osteoporosis Month, I thought – “do I sound menopausal?” (Let’s not answer that, m’kay.)  But after a doctor’s visit and x-ray for recurring hip pain I’ve been experiencing, I learned a thing or two about bone health that surprised me.

Lately I haven’t exactly been a model of good health.  I stay up too late, I drink way too much coffee (apparently, there is such a thing!), and I’m not doing any exercise due to my hip bothering me. (And apparently, the extra twenty pounds I’m hauling around do not count as weight-bearing exercise. Pffft.)

I’m taking reflux medication, and I didn’t know that proton pump inhibitors (just like caffeine, alcohol and the phosphoric acid found in colas) can cause bone loss, too.

Osteoporosis also runs in my family. I’m so screwed.

I think I’ll hang onto the crutches left over from my broken foot incident, just in case.

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The nurse practitioner told me “As long as you are getting 1000 mg of Calcium and 400-800 (IU) of Vitamin D daily, you shouldn’t have to worry – at least, until you hit menopause*.”

I went home, and took a closer look at my daily calcium and Vitamin D intake. Let’s just say it is highly dependent on how many skinny lattes I buy from the coffee shop, and whether or not I ate some yogurt. Not good.

Here are some frightening facts:

FactsNow that you are totally bummed out and feeling old and fragile, here are some helpful tips to help strengthen your bone density:

1. Cap that caffeine/coffee intake. (Less than three cups, please). Seriously. And go easy on the alcohol – one serving is ok, more is not (from a retaining calcium perspective), which is not good, given the tantrums around here. Also, go easy on the salt shaker.

2. Yes, you need to exercise. If you aren’t into the gym and elliptical trainers or treadmills, walking is an excellent weight-bearing exercise, so you don’t have to hit the machines – get outside, summer’s coming! (Just don’t do like I do and walk TO the coffee shop. Bad momma.)  Exercises that build muscle are good too, so add in a little yoga, throw around a kettle ball or do some pushups.

3. Eat more veggies and fruits, and nuts and seeds. Guess what? Dairy is not the only source of calcium! Other great sources of calcium are leafy greens like kale, collard greens and spinach, or figs and oranges, or sesame seeds, walnuts and almonds. Peanuts and almonds also contain lots of potassium, which is good for building strong bones.

4. Take an HONEST look at what you are eating/drinking. If you aren’t getting enough calcium/Vitamin D – you may need to supplement. (Truthfully, even popping my kids’ Gummy Vites would nail the Vitamin D that I’m lacking.)  Calcium citrate tends to be easier on the tummy as a calcium source, but check the label as it may also contain Vitamin D, and you don’t want to overdo either, too much of a good thing is bad, too.

Look – by the age of 18, you’ve developed something like 90% of your bone mass. What you want to do after that is maintain that bone mass – through diet and exercise.  (And keep this info in mind for your kids. Kids today drink a lot more soda than we likely did at their ages…and it could come back to haunt them in their later years. They don’t know this…but now you do!)

So put down the salt shaker and the margarita (you can have one glass later), and join me (and the dog) for a brisk walk (building strong bones) in the sunshine (for some Vitamin D).

We can always stop for some fro yo (calcium) on the way home.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

 

*disclaimer….this sounds like a pretty general statement, and there are always exceptions to the rule. Talk to your doctor, blah blah blah.

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