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How To Keep Your Bones Healthy

By Dr SAGAR HINGRAJIYA
Last updated on: April 02, 2024 11:47 IST
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Protein, calcium, vitamin D and other micronutrients play crucial roles in maintaining the health of bones and joints and should be incorporated into your diet, says Dr Sagar Hingrajiya, consultant orthopaedics, Bhailal Amin General Hospital, Vadodara.

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How to keep your bones healthy

Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Virat Kohli/Instagram

Arthritis, once presumed to be a condition reserved for the elderly, is increasingly impacting younger individuals in their twenties and thirties.

Concurrently, osteoporosis, a condition characterised by reduced bone density and increased fracture risk, poses significant concerns for bone health across all age groups.

As our understanding of these conditions evolves, it becomes increasingly evident that factors beyond age play pivotal roles in their onset and progression.

Our bones not only provide mobility and support, they also help store essential minerals.

As we move from childhood to adolescence, our bones undergo a process called modelling in which new bones are formed at one site while older bones are removed from another site within the same bone. This natural process allows individual bones to grow in size as we age.

This entire process of removal and replacement of bones at the same site is called remodelling and it happens throughout our life.

However, around the age of 30, most individuals reach their peak bone mass. From this point onwards, bone remodelling continues at a slower pace.

Ageing becomes a significant factor as bone strength naturally declines over time.

But, contrary to common misconceptions, age is not the sole determinant of arthritis. Genetic predisposition and various forms of arthritis can precipitate the condition in younger people, emphasising the need for a broader understanding of its causes and risk factors.

Arthritis symptoms in young adults often include joint pain, swelling and audible crackling sounds, all of which disrupt their typically active lifestyles.

Difficulty in activities like sitting cross-legged, squatting and kneeling are key indicators of the condition, highlighting the significant impact it can have on daily life.

What causes bones to become weaker

Osteoporosis, characterised by weakened bones prone to fractures, is influenced by a myriad of factors.

Dietary intake of calcium plays a crucial role, with low levels linked to reduced bone density and an increased risk of fractures.

Sedentary lifestyles further elevate the risk of osteoporosis, emphasising the importance of physical activity in maintaining bone health.

Conversely, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption have been correlated with weaker bones, highlighting the detrimental effects of certain lifestyle choices.

While osteoarthritis may be less prevalent in younger age groups, a range of other types of arthritis can affect them, including rheumatoid arthritis, gout and even post-COVID arthritis.

This diverse landscape underscores the importance of considering various triggers for joint inflammation and discomfort in the young.

Gender disparities also come into play, with women facing a greater risk of osteoporosis due to lower bone tissue density, particularly after menopause when oestrogen levels decline. Individuals with small frames or low body mass index are more vulnerable to osteoporosis.

Genetic predispositions, hormonal imbalances, eating disorders and certain medications can further exacerbate the risk of developing osteoporosis, underlining the multifactorial nature of the condition.

Diagnosing arthritis in younger individuals requires a refined diagnostic toolkit.

In addition to conventional X-rays, MRI scans and blood analyses play a crucial role in assessing the extent of joint damage and identifying underlying conditions contributing to the ailment.

Moreover, various underlying medical conditions can contribute to poor bone health.

Disorders such as multiple sclerosis, thyroid issues, lupus, alcohol use disorder, Cushing's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, anorexia, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and liver or kidney illness are associated with increased osteoporosis risk.

Additionally, long-term use of corticosteroids and certain medications can have adverse effects on bone health, further complicating the landscape of bone disorders.

The role of lifestyle in mitigating arthritis symptoms cannot be overstated.

Combatting sedentary habits and adhering to balanced diets are foundational steps in managing the condition.

Regular exercise that strengthens muscles and ensures adequate nutrient intake to support bone and joint health is essential.

Protein, calcium, vitamin D and other micronutrients play crucial roles in maintaining the health of bones and joints and should be incorporated into the diet accordingly.

What can be done to keep the bones healthy?

1. Ensure sufficient calcium intake

Adults aged under 50 and men aged between 51 and 70 should aim for 1,000 mg daily; women over 51 and men over 70 need 1,200 mg.

Consume calcium-rich foods like dairy, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon, sardines and soy products; consider supplements if necessary.

2. Maintain adequate vitamin D levels

Adults aged between 19 and 70 need 600 IUs (international unit) daily; those over 71 should aim for 800 IUs.

Sources of vitamin D include oily fish, mushrooms, eggs, fortified foods and sunlight exposure.

For example, one large egg yolk may provide approximately 40 IUs. In case your daily vitamin intake is not met with, supplements may be advised by an expert.

3. Exercise regularly

Incorporate weight-bearing exercises like walking and climbing stairs to build and preserve bone strength.

4. Avoid substance abuse

Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake to prevent bone damage.

The intersection of arthritis and osteoporosis underscores the significance of bone health in young adults.

By understanding the various factors influencing bone health and adopting preventive measures and lifestyle modifications, individuals can mitigate their risk of developing bone disorders and enjoy optimal skeletal health for years to come.

  • Health-related questions? Ask rediffGURUS HERE.

Disclaimer: All content and media herein is written and published online for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It should not be relied on as your only source for advice.

Please always seek the guidance of your doctor or a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Do not ever disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read herein.

If you believe you may have a medical or mental health emergency, please call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital, or call emergency services or emergency helplines immediately. If you choose to rely on any information provided herein, you do so solely at your own risk.

Opinions expressed herein cannot necessarily provide advice to fit the exact specifics of the issues of the person requesting advice.

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Dr SAGAR HINGRAJIYA
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