Having strong and healthy bones is a vital component of your overall health and wellbeing as you grow and move through life. Making sure that you have a strong skeletal system is going to ensure that the fundamental support system for your body is working hard (and that it’s in good working order) to continue to keep you upright and injury free. Many people don’t know that your bones are actually made up of living tissue that is constantly regenerating and renewing itself as you age, and that’s why it’s important that you’re always working to ensure that you get the right nutrients from your diet and from organic calcium supplements.
So, how are bones formed?
Most of the essential bone building happens during childhood, adolescence and into your early adulthood as this is when the bones are doing the most growing. Bone is made up of a strong matrix of proteins, with mineral salts being deposited into the matrix to harden it and to make it strong. The major salts that are found in bone are calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Silicon and other minerals, as well as water and fat, are also present.
The special cells that make bones are called osteoblasts, and the cells that dissolve bone are called osteoclasts. During the time of childhood and adolescence, the activity of your osteoblasts is naturally dominating the scene due to the amount of growth that is occurring. Even though there’s plenty of natural bone building going on, it’s still vital for children and adolescents to have a healthy diet with plenty of exercise. This is because the largest promoter of osteoblastic activity is exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercises – like running, climbing and jumping – where strain or weight is applied to the bone. The greater the amount of activity that goes on in the bone, the stronger the bone becomes. If you have a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, you’re going to see bone loss as the osteoblasts aren’t being coaxed into action.
In light of this, let’s take a look at some of the key factors for optimising bone health.
- Encourage the natural instincts that kids have to play, and be sure to continue physical activity throughout your life. When you are active in your life, you’re going to be promoting the activity of osteoblasts, the key component of building bone tissue.
- Make sure kids get plenty of calcium, either through dairy products or leafy greens (or a combination of the two) and that they keep this habit up throughout their lives. If you are concerned about your calcium intake as an adult, be sure to consider taking a supplement to reach the levels that are required.
- Ensure that vitamin D levels are where they should be, as vitamin D is essential for healthy metabolism of calcium (a vital component of bone health).
- Keep a diet that is rich in plant foods, as this is going to promote bone health. A recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “intakes of nutrients found in abundance in fruits and vegetables–namely, potassium, beta-carotene, vitamin C and magnesium–were positively associated with bone health.”
- Enjoy an alkaline-promoting diet. Fruits and vegetables help to maintain a healthy pH balance in the body. Studies have shown that when the body is too acidic, the parathyroid gland (responsible for regulating calcium metabolism) releases a hormone that activates the osteoclasts (the ones that dissolve bone) which then, over time, erodes bone tissue. In order to achieve optimal bone health, you need to enjoy a diet that is based on around 70-80 per cent alkaline-forming foods from the fruit and vegetable range. The rest should come from whole grains, legumes, free-range eggs, fish and organic meats and dairy products.
If you and your family can follow these handy tips, you’ll find that you have healthy bones and an excellent quality of life for years to come.