There may be several reasons why you may wish to learn how to increase bone density. You may have a family history of elderly relatives who have suffered broken bones, and you may be particularly concerned with how to prevent osteoporosis. Or you may have recently suffered a broken or fractured rib and want to improve your bone strength and healing.
Causes of Poor Bone Strength: Osteopenia & Osteoporosis
Several factors can affect bone strength. Some reasons for low bone density include family history and not building bone strength in one’s youth. Some medications can cause lowered bone density, as well as being female or of advanced age.
While most people are aware of the risks of osteoporosis, low bone density can lead to a condition which fewer of us have heard of, called osteopenia. Osteopenia is actually very common, especially among women. A low-calcium diet and smoking can cause it and generally has no symptoms unless it progresses to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a more severe degree of decreased bone mass that’s characterized by bone brittleness. Osteoporosis symptoms may include back pain, stooped posture and loss of height, and easily fractured bones.
Can You Rebuild Bone Density?
Yes, there are several ways to increase bone density. Like many medical conditions, they include both diet and exercise.
The two types of activities that build bones best are weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises. Weight-bearing activities, like walking, hiking, dancing, and playing racquet sports force you to work against gravity. Resistance exercises include weight-lifting and using workout bands.
An Osteoporosis Diet
The National Osteoporosis Foundation publishes various resources to help people who may be at risk for bone loss, including many suggestions for a diet for osteoporosis prevention. It’s helpful to know which foods are recommended and what nutritional elements they contain to build bones.
High on the preferred foods list include foods replete with essential calcium as well as added vitamin D.
Some recommended bone-building foods are:
- Dairy (preferably low or non-fat varieties milk, yogurt, and cheese)
- Fish (preferably fatty varieties and canned with bones, including sardines, mackerel, and salmon)
- Dark Greens
These foods are valuable for bone strengthening because of their high calcium content and other nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, D, and K.
Vitamins for Bone Density
Most people are aware that calcium is a huge factor in building healthy bones. It’s becoming increasingly well known that vitamin D is essential for building and protecting your bones. While the body can manufacture vitamin D in the presence of sunlight, it’s not available through many food sources. Many people lack sufficient amounts to benefit from its mineral absorption properties that can help prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin C is helpful for bone-building because it’s essential for the formation of collagen, which helps bone mineralization and the absorption of calcium.
Vitamin K comes in two forms obtained from different food sources, both of which are essential for bone health, as pointed out by the Cleveland Clinic. These two types of vitamin K activate proteins involved in both bone formation and mineralization.
It can be challenging to get all the essential minerals and vitamins for bone health through diet alone. For that reason, it may be helpful for those interested in bone strengthening to take quality supplements designed especially for that purpose.
One formula specifically designed for improving bone mineral density is Revive MD’s K2 + D3. This supplement includes both forms of vitamin K and essential vitamin D. Vitamin K and vitamin D have been shown to act synergistically for improved bone health and cardiovascular health.
While vitamin K can be found in foods, many of the foods that contain vitamin K-1, such as kale, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard, and mustard greens, are not foods most people turn to with frequency or much appetite. The other vitamin K, K-2, which is even more critical for bone mineralization, is even harder to get in a normal diet, as it’s found only in certain animal foods like organ meats and fermented foods.
The Path to Building Better Bone Density
If you’re eager to improve your bone strength, you may wonder, how long does it take to build bone density? It’s hard to put a length of time to it, but you can speed up the time if you combine several methods of bone-strengthening.
According to American Bone Health, a person builds 90% of their bone mass by the time they are 18 and reaches peak bone mass at about 30.
It’s believed our entire skeleton replaces itself in about 10 years; however, you can expect to make incremental improvements to your bone density through weight training in a year or so.
You will want to know what to avoid, as well as what to eat and do. Avoid these behaviors:
- Drinking alcohol
- Being sedentary
- Eating large quantities of salt
- Gaining excessive weight, which is hard on the bones.