Bone density, also called bone mass, is the measurement of how many grams of calcium are contained in a portion of bone. The higher the number, the stronger and more dense your bones are. Both men and women reach their highest level of bone mass as they reach their 30th birthdays, so this is the standard against which your bone density is measured. To avoid certain conditions associated with low bone density in later life, it is important to improve your bone density using natural methods.
How Bone Density Benefits Your Health
A high bone density means that you are less vulnerable to breaking bones as you get older. In the past, doctors would diagnose osteoporosis only after a patient broke one of her bones. Now, doctors can measure your bone density, especially if you are at high risk for osteoporosis. While you are younger, your bones are always regenerating themselves, adding calcium and other minerals from your diet. As you age, your body becomes less efficient at this process, making you more vulnerable to developing bone density diseases.
Instead of relying on artificial calcium, eat foods and drink beverages high in calcium. Some of these foods and drinks include spinach, salmon, milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Calcium is absorbed more efficiently into your bones when you take in sufficient quantities of vitamin D. The most natural way of obtaining enough vitamin D is to go outside and spend some time in the sun. In addition, eat more egg yolks and take cod liver oil, which both contain significant amounts of vitamin D.
Participating in a weight-bearing exercise at a minimum of three days per week helps you strengthen your bones. Depending on your health, medical history and age, these exercises can include walking, light weight training, water aerobics and yoga. Look for resistance training methods, where you work against the force of gravity. When you exercise regularly, your bone mass increases. The type and intensity of the exercise that you choose impacts the percentage of bone density increases that you experience. For example, athletes who participate in lower intensity activities such as cycling have a lower bone density than the athletes who take part in jumping exercises, running, power lifting and gymnastics, according to the University of New Mexico.
Postmenopausal Women, Exercise and Bone Density
As you reach your postmenopausal years, you experience a decline in estrogen, which leads to a loss of bone density. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, beginning a consistent exercise program that includes weight-bearing exercises and resistance training can help you to slow the loss of calcium in your bones. You may also reverse this loss and begin increasing your bone density.
Tips & Warnings
- Avoid foods high in sugar and caffeine because they drain calcium from your bones.
- Yo-yo dieting can deplete your bones' calcium supply. Thin people are at an increased risk for osteoporosis because their bones carry less weight from their bodies.
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