Boning Up on Bone Health for Healthy Aging

Why Bone Health is Important for Healthy Aging

What do we need to ensure we all age well and do so in a healthy vibrant way?
How can we be the architects of our future, not the victims. Aging and wellness are popular topics in magazine and talk shows, but we need to be clear about what is evidence based as opposed to trendy, what has true merit, rather than anecdotal stories.

The number one event that is common to both men and women over the age of 50 is the risk and the likelihood of fracture. Slipping and falling is very, very common, but not everyone fractures. Some people will bounce and NOT break. What is the secret? How can we have strong robust bones?

Essential Vitamins

Well, bone health starts for us all when we are young. We need calcium and Vitamin D. No, I don’t work for the Milk Marketing Board of Canada, but in truth, they ae quite right. Calcium is essential and is absorbed by the body from milk, cheese and yogurt, much more efficiently than from tablets. For people over the age of 50, Osteoporosis Canada, out guideline body says we need 1200 mg per day. That is 3-4 servings of dairy. Yes, we can get some calcium from broccoli and from almonds and salmon, etc., but dairy products pack the biggest punch. Vitamin D is from the sun. See any of that lately? Even in the summer, when we do see sun, the sunblock we use to prevent skin cancer, blocks out the vitamin D absorption, so we need 1000-2000iu (international units) as adults over 50.

Our children should be having milk and calcium containing products and vitamin D. And you know our grandmothers and great-grandmothers fed us cod liver oil! They were right.

What does this mean. Our bones will be stronger and more able to stand the expected slow loss of bone with age.

What Bone Density Tests Tell You

By age 65 everyone, men and women need a bone density test. This tells us how much bone we have, the quantity of bone. It does not tell us, the quality of that bone. Bone quality is not as easily measured but we do know any fracture past age 40 should be evaluated to determine if it was a fragility fracture or a traumatic fracture. If you are hit by a truck, any fracture is traumatic. If you step of the curb, a fall from your standing height or 1-3 steps higher, that is generally a fragility fracture. And a fragility fracture is a predictor of weak bones, risk of hip fractures. A fracture is the event that warns us that our bone quality is not ideal.

Evaluate Your Risk

It is reasonable to evaluate your risk, whether you have fractured since age 40, whether your parent had a hip fracture, what drugs you may be on that can have an effect on bone, what underlying diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis that may impact bone health. By focusing on bone health, you may be doing great, or you may need some intervention, but the goal remains the same for you and your doctor:  maintain your activity, independence and ability to age in a healthy way for years to come.


The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Boning up on Bone Health. Why diet & exercise are important in preventing Osteoporosis


Part Two. *

Bone is a living tissue that is constantly renewed through a process in which old bone is removed and replaced by new bone. Cells called osteoclasts erode the bone, creating small cavities; bone-forming cells called osteoblasts then fill in the cavities with new bone. This is nature’s way of restoring bones and keeping them healthy.

In younger people with healthy bones, the osteoclasts and osteoblasts work together, maintaining healthy bones. However, after our mid-30s the process is not as efficient, and we begin to gradually lose bone. In someone with osteoporosis, bone loss occurs more rapidly, causing the bones to become thinner and weaker over time. If you have osteoporosis, you have already lost a significant amount of bone and may continue to do so unless you receive medication.  Over 80% of all fractures in people 50+ are caused by osteoporosis.

That’s why diet and exercise is recommended as part of an overall healthy approach to preventing osteoporosis.

 We need to emphasize the importance of regular weight-bearing exercise for bone health. Weight bearing exercise, where you use your body weight in activities such as walking, running and weight lifting will help your bones become denser. The result is that you develop more bone material, and your bones become denser. Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to help your bones.

It will also help your balance and strength, which could help to prevent falls


  • Calcium is the cornerstone of strong bones. Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams per day. Beginning at age 51, women need 1,200 milligrams every day, and when men hit 71, they need to hit that mark, too. The pop star of calcium sources is undoubtedly milk. A single, 8-ounce cup of milk, whether skim, low-fat, or whole, has 300 milligrams of calcium.
  • Not a milk drinker? A cup of yogurt has at least as much calcium as an 8-ounce cup of milk. And 1 ounce of Swiss cheese has nearly as much. Even if you’re lactose intolerant, yogurt and hard cheeses are low in lactose. Or try dairy products that are lactose-reduced or lactose-free. Removing lactose from milk and dairy foods does not affect the calcium content
  • You might be surprised to learn that calcium is plentiful in many vegetables. Go for dark leafy greens such as Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage, and kale. If dairy products, sardines, and leafy greens leave you cold, consider eating fortified foods. These are products that do not naturally contain calcium but have been enhanced with varying amounts of the essential mineral.
  • Breakfast foods are a great start — fortified orange juice has up to 240 milligrams of calcium, and fortified cereals deliver up to 1,000 milligrams per cup. Check the nutritional label for the exact amount.
  • Half a cup of calcium-enriched tofu has as much as 861 milligrams of calcium, but calcium is not the only mineral that gives bones a leg up. New research suggests plant-based chemicals called isoflavones strengthen bone density as well. Isoflavones are plentiful in soy foods, such as tofu, and seem to have an estrogen-like effect on the body. For some women, this is a positive side effect, while others may choose to limit their intake
  • Salmon and other types of fatty fish offer an array of bone-boosting nutrients. They contain calcium as well as vitamin D, which aid in calcium absorption. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, important as antioxidants in the body

 Calcium Supplements

Supplements are an easy way to boost your calcium intake, but some reports suggest you may not need them. If you’re already getting enough calcium from food, taking more in pill form won’t contribute to bone health. Experts say there’s little benefit in getting more than 2,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and too much can lead to kidney stones. For the best absorption, take no more than 500 milligrams at one time. Some calcium supplements, such as calcium carbonate, are better absorbed if taken with meals; however, calcium citrate can be taken anytime

Vitamin D



Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and store calcium from the foods we eat. Our bodies can produce vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight. However, during the winter months, most Canadians do not get enough sun exposure to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, nor do we get enough vitamin D through our dietary intake. However, Vitamin D intake can be enhanced through dietary sources and supplements.  It is important to continue to take Vitamin D, even in the summer months, as we tend to wear sunblock that limits the absorption of vitamin D.

Osteoporosis Canada recommends the following intake of vitamin D (total intake through diet and supplementation) on a daily basis.  For people age 19-50; 400-1,000 IU, and for those of us over the age of fifty; 800-2,000 IU’s.

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