A few healthy bone health habits can help prevent broken bones (bone fractures) and keep them strong and healthy for the long term.
Bone Health to Prevent Broken Bones (Fractures)
Bone DensitometryBBone Densitometryones are comprised of living tissue that grows and changes throughout our lives. In fact, bone formation is a highly regulated process in the body—old bone is constantly being removed and new bone formed. In childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, new bone formation outpaces the removal of old bone. As we age, however, that process reverses—and we may see a decrease in bone density.
Bone density (or bone mineral density) refers to the amount of mineral matter per square centimeter of bones. Bone density can be an indirect indicator of the risk of osteoporosis and fracture. In fact, there is a statistical association between poor bone density and higher likelihood of fracture. Bone densitometry is a test like an X-ray that measures the density of bone.
Protecting Your Bones from Osteoporosis and Fractures
There are some risk factors for osteoporosis and bone loss that cannot be changed—such as gender (women have increased risk), age, body size, and family history. However, there are some actions you can take to prevent bone loss and fractures and, of course, the best time to start is now.
- Get adequate calcium: The best food sources of calcium are dairy, leafy greens, sardines, and orange juice, but you may need to supplement as well.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is another important ingredient for bone health. Vitamin D helps promote calcium absorption and build skeletal health. Women who take more than 800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day are 30 percent less likely to experience hip fractures.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight is unhealthy for bones, but so is being underweight. Extreme dieting or eating disorders pose a risk because they deprive bones of protein.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking harms the body’s ability to form bone and increases the risk of fractures. If you haven’t quit yet, today is the perfect day to kick the habit. Your bones will thank you.
- Weight-bearing exercise: Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to increase bone density and improve bone health. Walking or lifting weights are excellent activities to promote fitness and build strong, healthy bones.
- Cut the caffeine: Caffeine leaches calcium from the body and therefore, can have a negative impact on bone health, especially if calcium intake is too low. It’s probably best to moderate caffeine intake to 300 mg or less per day. If you are a caffeine junkie, you may want to consider increasing your calcium intake.
- Pay attention to medications: Some medications, such as steroids or anti-depression medication, can negatively impact bone density. Be sure to discuss the side effects of medications with your physician and take precautions for your bone health.
 Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Orav EJ, et al. A pooled analysis of vitamin D dose requirements for fracture prevention. New England Journal of Medicine. 2012; 367: 40-49.
 Wong PK, Christie JJ, Wark JD. The effects of smoking on bone health. Clinical Science. 2007; 113(5): 233-241.
 Ilich JZ, Kerstetter JE. Nutrition in bone health revisited: A story beyond calcium. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2000; 19(6): 715-737.