Although you have a good chance at increasing the density and strength of your bones at any age, it’s best to start when you’re young and to instill good habits in your children that they will hopefully carry into adulthood and enjoy the lifelong benefits that come with having healthy dense bones. Building strong bones is actually quite simple and consists of eating right, doing certain physical activities and kicking unhealthy habits.
Calcium and vitamin D are most important for strong healthy bones. From one to 18 years of age, children require a daily serving of 260 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium. After this, it decreases to just 1,000 milligrams per day, and after 50 years of age, the daily requirement goes up to 1,200 milligrams a day.
You can easily follow a diet that’s high in calcium to ensure your bones are strong and resilient. Do this by drinking skim, low fat or regular milk, eating green leafy vegetables, meat, fish and other protein rich foods. One way to really make an impact is to swap out sugary drinks for a glass of milk, a serving of yogurt or a healthy shake or smoothie made with either of these dairy products.
Foods with a significant amount of calcium in order of food, milligrams of calcium per serving and daily value percentage:
- Sardines, canned in oil, with bones, 3 oz. 324 32
- Cheddar cheese, 1½ oz., shredded 306 31
- Milk, nonfat, 8 fluid oz. 302 30
- Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 oz. 300 30
- Milk, reduced fat (2% milk fat), no solids, 8 fluid oz. 297 30
- Milk, whole (3.25% milk fat), 8 fluid oz. 291 29
- Milk, buttermilk, 8 fluid oz. 285 29
- Milk, lactose reduced, 8 fluid oz.
- Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat, 2 cups unpacked 276 28
- Mozzarella, part skim, 1½ oz. 275 28
- Tofu, firm, with calcium, ½ cup* 204 20
- Orange juice, calcium fortified, 6 fluid oz. 200 to 260 20 to 26
- Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone, 3 oz. 181 18
- Pudding, chocolate, instant, made with 2% milk, ½ cup 153 15
- Tofu, soft, with calcium, ½ cup* 138 14
- Breakfast drink, orange flavor, powder prepared with water, 8 fluid oz. 133 13
- Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve, ½ cup 103 10
- Ready to eat cereal, calcium fortified, 1 cup 100 to 1000 10 to 100
- Turnip greens, boiled, ½ cup 99 10
- Kale, raw, 1 cup 90 9
- Kale, cooked, 1 cup 94 9
- Soy beverage, calcium fortified, 8 fluid oz. 80 to 500 8 to 50
You also need Vitamin D to grow strong bones, and it is most easily obtained through eating salmon, mackerel and tuna and drinking milk because it’s fortified with this vitamin. Sun exposure is another great way to get the body to create vitamin D.
Bones get stronger through use. Activities that use the legs strengthen the related bone groups. Some of these exercises are basketball, walking, hiking, dancing, in-line skating, volleyball, skateboarding, gymnastics, weight bearing exercises, jump rope and aerobics. Grow strong bones in the arms by doing sports, exercises and weight lifting that require you to use your arms.
Combined with the right diet, these types of activities will have you well on your way to strong healthy bones. How much you can do will ultimately be determined by how much energy you will have, which is connected to your diet.
Inactivity, on the other hand, is not good for the bones at all and will only serve to weaken them. Avoid this by limiting the amount of time spent being idle or using gadgets that don’t require any physical activity on your part.
3- Don’t Smoke
In addition to all of its other health threats, smoking harms bone tissue and puts you at a higher risk of fracturing a bone.
While you could get the amount of calcium you need by drinking two to four 8 oz. glasses of milk a day, it gets boring after a while, and if you limit your diet in this way, then you would probably miss out on eating other important nutrients your body needs to stay strong and healthy. It all comes down to having a balanced diet and living an active and healthy lifestyle.