Maintaining healthy bones as you age is extremely important in preventing debilitating conditions like fractures and osteoporosis, especially for women. Bone density is the greatest when you are in your 20s, but after that you begin to lose bone mass, making your bones weaker and more susceptible to damage. While there is nothing you can do to prevent this from happening, there are certain lifestyle choices that can accelerate bone loss. Here are six common habits that damage the health of your bones:
1. Alcohol Use
While an occasional drink is just fine, consistently drinking more than one to two drinks per week can lead to a loss of 2% of your bone mass over a year’s time. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of both calcium and vitamin D, both of which are necessary for bone formation. In addition, excessive consumption of alcohol destroys osteoblasts, the bone-making cells.
2. Cigarette Smoking
The mechanism behind bone damage caused by cigarette smoking is unclear, but it is certain that the ingredients in cigarette smoke interfere with the natural cycle of bone health. Smoking hinders the formation of healthy new bone and it also causes existing bone tissue to break down more rapidly. As a result, bones become weak and brittle.
Smoking causes a loss of approximately 2% of bone over a year. If you both smoke and drink, yearly bone loss actually increases to 8%.
3. Sedentary Living
A sedentary lifestyle will quickly result in weak bones and eventual osteoporosis. Bones need to be placed under stress to grow stronger. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, provides that stress. The recommendation for exercising to promote healthy bones is 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise five days a week.
4. Eating a Low Calcium Diet
Calcium is an important mineral that is needed by essential organs in your body, such as the heart, muscles, and nerves. Bone functions as the major storehouse for calcium. If you don’t eat enough calcium to supply the body with what it needs, it will take calcium from bone. Over time, a diet low in calcium will lead to thin and brittle bones. For a list of top 10 healthy sources of calcium click here.
5. Drinking Too Much Caffeine
Excess caffeine consumption is associated with lower bone density. Caffeine causes your kidneys to excrete calcium from your body, lowering the amount of calcium available to the bones for rebuilding.
6. Overconsumption of Soda
Soda contains a chemical compound called phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid gives soda its tangy taste and adds to its syrupy consistency. Unfortunately, Phosphoric acid flushes calcium out of the body and it has been linked to lower bone density in those who drink three or more sodas a day. Another factor that could contribute to bone loss in soda drinkers is the preference for soda over calcium-rich beverages.
The health of your bones is really within your control. Even though the loss of bone density is inevitable as you age, your body has the capability of making new bone tissue throughout your life. There are multiple lifestyle factors that you can change to preserve bone density and protect your bone from damage. The key to lifelong bone health is incorporating healthy habits that promote bone growth to offset bone loss.
6 Common Habits that Damage Your Bones
By PositiveMed Team
Reviewed by Nima Shei MD