How to Keep Your Skeletal System Healthy

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Bones are among the most important parts of the human anatomy. They help keep your organs safe and provide backing for your muscles to function. As you grow older, the risk of osteoporosis and similar conditions increases. You can safeguard against that by keeping your bones healthy. If your bone density is solid, it will help support you throughout your life. Poor skeletal health, on the other hand, can exact a steep toll in later years.

Things You'll Need

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Tuna fish
  • Salmon
  • Exercise equipment
  • Exercise padding
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste

Eat a lot of foods high in calcium:1000 to 1200 mg a day. Bones depend on calcium for strength. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are an excellent source, as are leafy vegetables such as broccoli. Certain foods such as orange juice and breakfast cereals may be fortified with calcium as well; they are labeled as such on the container. If you're lactose intolerant or don't include calcium-rich foods in your diet, consider taking calcium supplements.

Look for foods high in Vitamin D. It helps the bones absorb calcium more readily, which improves their strength. Most types of milk sold today contain Vitamin D, as does tuna fish, salmon, egg yolks and cod liver oil.

Exercise. Physical activity promotes strong bones, especially weight-bearing exercises which help strengthen bones against the effects of gravity. Besides weightlifting and weight training, weight-bearing exercises include more moderate physical activities like running, hiking, jumping rope, and playing in organized sports like soccer, basketball and tennis. Doctors suggest at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, 5 days a week.

Wear helmets and other protective gear when you exercise. Broken bones never heal back quite as strong as they used to be. Help cut down on the risk with pads, helmets and mouth guards. This is especially important if you play a contact sport like football or rugby.

Brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Your teeth are among the most important parts of your skeletal system; if they aren't properly cared for, they will develop cavities and similar problems. Brush regularly after meals and see your dentist twice each year for a cleaning.

Tips & Warnings

  • Excessive thinness is all the rage--especially among women--but it can cause serious health problems and makes your skeleton extremely brittle to boot. Talk to your doctor and maintain a healthy body weight. Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption if you want to maintain a healthy skeletal system. They leech calcium out of the bones and contribute to the risk of osteoporosis.

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