June is Men’s Health Month, and an important component of overall health in men is bone health. The goal of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. While bone health is often a topic directed at women, strong bones are just as crucial for men. Why? Osteoporosis and decreased bone mass are actually of concern for men, as one in four men over the age of 50 will experience a fracture because of osteoporosis.
There are several steps men can take to build and maintain bone mass, in order to decrease their risk for osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal problems. Our team provides the top ways men can keep their bones healthy and strong.
What you eat plays a role in your body’s ability form new bone and slow the process of losing existing bone mass. Typically, men reach their peak bone mass by age 30. After reaching that peak, your body begins to form new bone at a much slower rate (which happens at highest levels during childhood and adolescence). Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important nutrients when it comes to bone health.
However, your body does not produce calcium, which is why it is important to consume foods rich in the nutrient. Calcium is a mineral that helps us build bone tissue- nearly all calcium is stored in your bones and teeth, helping to support strength and structure. Vitamin D helps your body effectively absorb calcium from the foods you eat. You can get vitamin D from the foods you eat, sunlight and supplements.
Osteoporosis is not the only concern for those who don’t have get enough bone-healthy nutrients in their diets. Osteomalacia may develop as a result of low vitamin D levels. This condition involves the softening of your bones, leading to bone pain, muscle weakness and sometimes deformity of the long bones (such as bowing). You are also at a higher risk of fracture when living with osteomalacia.
Daily Calcium & Vitamin D Recommendations
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, men should get daily calcium and vitamin D in the amounts below:
- At least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day from either foods or supplements for men under 70.
- At least 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day for men older than 70.
- At least 600 IU of vitamin D per day for men under 70.
- At least 800 IU of vitamin D per day for men older than 70.
You should always speak with you doctor about your nutrition needs and the best ways for you to get your daily intake of calcium and vitamin D before beginning a supplement routine.
Regular exercise will help you stay mobile as you age, reduce your risk for health complications, and keep your bones healthy and strong. A proper exercise program includes three elements: aerobic conditioning, flexibility exercise and strength training. Flexibility exercise and strength training in particular are highly beneficial to building and maintaining bone mass.
By improving your flexibility, you increase your range of motion, which allows you to move with more agility. Flexibility also helps protect your joints and prevent injury, whether you’re playing sports or performing daily tasks.
Strength training and weight-bearing exercise helps you build muscle, increase bone density, stabilize your joints and improve your alignment. When you strengthen your joints and muscles, you also reduce your risk of falls, and injuries that may result from falls, such as fractures.
Types of activities that you may benefit from:
- Brisk walking
- Jumping rope
- Using machine weights
- Using resistance bands
For your safety, consult with a doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Some of the activities above may be dangerous for those with weakened bones.
Have you had a bone density test? Osteoporosis does not necessarily show symptoms, and when it comes to detection, early is best. By speaking with your doctor about your medical history, having regular check-ups and having a bone density test, you may be able to prevent fractures and other serious injuries. Once your bone density has been determined, your doctor will be able to advise you on what steps you should take to improve your bone health and prevent fractures.
It is also important to note that hormones can help you preserve bone health, but as some men age, they lose testosterone. This can occur naturally or be a result from receiving prostate cancer treatment, which may play a role in bone loss or osteoporosis.
Limiting your alcohol intake and quitting tobacco use are two beneficial steps to take now. Research suggests that tobacco and alcohol can contribute to weakened bones. Excess alcohol in particular may interfere with your body’s ability to properly absorb calcium. Learn how smoking negatively impacts your bone health here.