Nutrition

Stronger Bones After 60: Proven Strategies for Enhancing Bone Density

With strong bones, comes a stronger body, and with a stronger body comes the strongest lifestyle and fewer difficulties when you cross the mark of 60.

As a person grows older, they may become wiser with each passing year but at the same time, it is also possible for the person to have degrading bone density levels. A low bone density is not a good indicator, especially in old age.

So, without wasting a second let’s jump right in and find ways to help those bones gain some density.

How to increase bone density after 60
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash COpyright 2021

1. Introduction

1.1. Importance of Bone Density

Maintaining the strength and resilience of the skeleton system is important throughout your life, and in this bone density plays a critical role as it determines the overall bone health which directly influences the skeleton of a human. The vital organs are protected by the bones and at the same time bones provide the structural framework of the body, providing movement through joints and limbs.

Maintaining optimal bone density is essential for preventing fractures, promoting mobility, and supporting a healthy lifestyle throughout various life stages, especially in old age i.e. after 60’s to be specific, the reason for the same will be discussed further through the article.

1.2. What is Bone Density?

Bone density refers to the concentration of minerals, primarily calcium and phosphate, within bone tissue. These minerals provide bones with their hardness and resistance to deformation i.e. prevent the bones from easily breaking. Alongside minerals, bones also contain collagen, a protein that gives them flexibility and resilience. The delicate balance between mineral content and collagen fibers contributes to bone density.

1.3. Measurement of Bone Density

Bone density scan with Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) is the primary method for measuring bone density. During a DXA scan, a low-dose X-ray is directed through specific bones, typically the spine, hip, or forearm. The amount of X-ray energy absorbed by the bone is measured, providing a precise assessment of bone mineral content. The results are expressed as T-scores, which compare an individual’s bone density to that of a healthy young adult.

1.4. Bone Density After 60

As individuals cross the threshold of 60 years, the importance of maintaining strong and resilient bones takes center stage as the body tends to weaken and at that time if the bones aren’t strong enough then my friend there can be trouble waiting for you. Age-related changes often lead to a decline in bone density, leaving bones more vulnerable to fractures and other skeletal issues. However, this phase of life doesn’t have to signify diminished bone health.

With the right strategies, individuals can effectively enhance bone density, ensuring a robust skeletal foundation for an active and fulfilling life in their golden years. The different ways through which bone density can be increased after 60 are there, they exist and by the end of this article, you’ll have an idea about all the important ones.

2. Factors Affecting the Bone Density After 60

Lower bone density or osteopenia is a very common issue faced by many people across the globe. It becomes prominent as a person grows older and crosses the mark of 50 or 60 and because of several factors the bone density deteriorates. Some of the risk factors for osteoporosis include the following:

2.1. Age

The aging process itself brings about changes in a person’s life and that includes changes in bone structure and density as well. After the age of 60, bone resorption (loss) can outpace bone formation, leading to decreased bone density and thus weakening the bones & making them more susceptible to easily breaking, making them weak i.e. of less strength.

2.2. Hormones

Hormonal changes, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels for women after menopause, which is the time that marks the end of menstrual cycles, can impact bone health. Post-menopausal women often develop osteoporosis.

Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density, and its decline can accelerate bone loss after menopause which happens in your 40s or 50s, the average age is 51 in the United States.

Too much thyroid hormone can also cause bone density loss and thus weakening the bones, and leading to low bone density.

2.3. Nutrition

Inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D can affect the density of your bones. Calcium provides the structural component of bones, and vitamin D which helps to absorb calcium. The intake of both vitamin D and calcium is equally important. Not having enough calcium or enough vitamin D can hamper the density of the bones thus making them weak.

At the same time, excess intake of salt can cause the bones to lose bone mass thus making them less dense. Salt along with caffeine causes calcium loss or leach calcium from the bones thus weakening the bones.

Being underweight makes you prone to low bone mass and density as well. There are higher risk of fractures if the person is underweight, as being underweight means the bone density is low of the person. At the same time eating less can prevent nutrients from reaching the bones which are required to keep the bones healthy.

2.4. Genetics

Genetic factors influence an individual’s peak bone density and susceptibility to bone conditions like osteoporosis, which stands for “porous bones,” a disease that weakens the bones making them brittle and as a result making them more prone to fractures.

The variations in genes can often increase the risk of osteoporosis. Among the variations, one such variation is in the gene encoding the vitamin D receptor which is responsible for calcium absorption mainly. The gene alterations may thus cause lower bone density and result in higher chances of having the person to develop osteoporosis.

Another gene is COL1A1, which helps in producing the collagen of type 1, the protein that constitutes the majority of the bone structure giving the bone its flexibility and resilience. A variation that can increase the chances of the lower density bones and thus weak bones.

The variation in either of the genes does not necessarily mean that the person will have osteoporosis or a risk of osteoporosis for sure, other factors like diet and exercise contribute equally to the disease i.e. osteoporosis which in fact is a complex disease that doesn’t work alone on gene alterations.

2.5. Physical Inactivity

Sedentary lifestyles i.e. a lifestyle where much time is spent seated, contribute to muscle weakening and bone loss. Weight-bearing exercises stimulate bone remodelling, helping to maintain bone density and thus helping your bones gain adequate strength. After 60, it particularly becomes the primary cause as the physical activity of a person decreases drastically.

3. How Do You Increase Bone Density After You Reach 60?

There are a variety of ways through which the bone density can be increased after the age of 60 or in general when a human grows older and hits the mark where the knees start cracking with back pain knocking at the door. Oh yes, if the bone density is taken care of, there are chances that either of those problems may not arrive as well.

Let’s now take a look at the different ways that can be adopted to increase bone density after 60 and which will help in osteoporosis prevention, which are as follows:

3.1. Intake of Calcium and Vitamin D

Milk rich in Calcium
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash Copyright 2021

As we have discussed in the earlier sections calcium is the foundation of bone density. Incorporating calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, fortified plant-based milk, almonds, canned salmon, and leafy greens into your diet becomes an important aspect of increasing bone density after 60. Basically with just increasing the calcium intake many problems will be solved.

Vitamin D on the other hand, aids in calcium absorption which can be increased by spending time outdoors to allow your body to synthesize vitamin D naturally through the sun or consuming foods rich in vitamin D such as egg yolk, mushrooms, breakfast cereals, tuna, oily fish, etc.

Breakfast Cereals Increase Vitamin D
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash Copyright 2020

3.2. Embrace a Balanced Diet

A well-rounded diet that includes lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables supports overall health, including bone density thus promoting healthy bones. Adequate protein intake is particularly important for maintaining muscle mass, indirectly contributing to bone health i.e. maintaining bone density.

3.3. Engage in Weight-Bearing Exercises

Climbing stairs
Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash Copyright 2016

Weight-bearing exercises, where bones support your body’s weight for example strength training, stimulate bone remodeling. Activities like brisk walking, jogging, dancing, and stair climbing can help enhance bone density and strengthen bones. Resistance exercises, such as lifting light weights or using resistance bands, promote muscle strength and bone health.

3.4. Include Balance and Flexibility Exercises

Balance and flexibility exercises reduce the risk of falls and fractures, it becomes especially crucial as we age i.e. as we cross the mark of 60. Yoga, tai chi, and Pilates enhance coordination, stability, and flexibility, thereby supporting overall bone health, and maintaining bone density. So it is important to incorporate these exercises into your daily routine.

3.5. Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol to Tackle Low Bone Density

Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption adversely affect bone health. Smoking interferes with the blood supply to bones, while alcohol hinders calcium absorption which will ultimately hamper bone density, resulting in low bone density. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can significantly contribute to improved bone density leading to a healthy body overall and thus a healthy lifestyle which becomes essential in old age.

3.6. Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Before embarking on significant dietary or exercise changes, consult your healthcare provider as a professional will have better knowledge about the methods and ways to keep bone density in check as you age. They can assess your individual health needs and recommend tailored strategies to enhance bone density safely with minimum to zero side effects.

3.7. Consider Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements

If meeting calcium and vitamin D requirements through diet alone is challenging, supplements can be considered. However, consult your doctor before adding supplements to your regimen to ensure they are appropriate for you. Calcium and vitamin D supplements can be very handy in increasing bone density as you age since most food becomes inaccessible due to a variety of reasons.

3.8. Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration supports various bodily functions, including bone health. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day is essential for maintaining optimal hydration levels required for optimal bone health and density.

3.9. Stay Consistent

Enhancing bone density in your old age is a gradual process that requires consistency and even more consistency to maintain that level. Commit to a comprehensive approach that combines a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and other healthy habits to maximize your bone health potential.

3.10. Regular Health Check-Ups

Periodic visits to your healthcare provider allow for ongoing assessment of bone health and identification of potential issues. Regular health check-ups ensure timely interventions and adjustments to your bone health strategy depending upon the results of the recommended health care regime and lifestyle change regime.

4. Conclusion

By understanding the complexities of bone density and taking proactive steps to enhance it, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of fractures, improve the overall quality of life, and continue to embrace an active and fulfilling lifestyle.

The different ways through which bone density can be maintained after 60 include:

  • Increasing the intake of calcium and vitamin D in your diet, either through food or through supplements available in the market after proper consultation with a healthcare professional.
  • Limit the intake of alcohol and quit smoking. Weight-bearing exercises are important as they stimulate bone remodelling along with flexibility exercises which help in reducing the chances of fractures.

Consult your healthcare provider to get professional advice and help before starting with any severe changes and while you are following a routine make sure to pay regular visits to the doctor.

As age advances, prioritizing bone health becomes an investment in one’s future well-being, ensuring a strong foundation to enjoy the journey ahead. Being in old age, it is important to maintain strong bones as you might want to enjoy the remaining years of your life doing things that you couldn’t have done while you were, Yes that can include bungee jumping as well if your bones and your heart support you.

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