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6 things that help prevent osteoporosis: it doesn’t matter how much protein you eat

You can maintain your bones healthy with a well-balanced diet and good exercise.

Osteoporosis is often discovered only after an accidental fracture. Lifestyle plays an important role in preventing this common condition, which mainly affects women because of hormonal changes.

Because people reach peak bone mass around the age of 30 and after that the structure of the bones keeps weakening, it is important to take care of the bones later in life. Besides good exercise, nutrition can help you to keep your bones healthy.

Tips for keeping your bones healthy

Bones are constantly changing and renewing themselves throughout your life as a result of the action of bone-building and bone-eating cells. Their composition, however, varies with age: while in childhood the proportion of organic material is high, and as a result the bones are more elastic, in older age the proportion of inorganic material increases and bone breakdown processes become more pronounced.

Bone density reaches its maximum around the age of thirty, and from then on it decreases, but how much it does depends on several factors. In osteoporosis, bones become more brittle. Osteopenia is a condition that precedes osteoporosis, when bone density is already lower than desired, but the condition does not necessarily progress to osteoporosis, especially if one is consciously taking steps to prevent the disease.

Regular exercise

Regular physical activity is essential to maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system. International recommendations suggest that adults aged between 19 and 64 should do at least 2.5 hours per week of aerobic exercise, such as cycling or brisk walking, and focus on muscle strengthening at least twice a week. Weight training and resistance training are particularly important in preventing osteoporosis.

6 things that help prevent osteoporosis: it doesn’t matter how much protein you eat

Calcium-rich foods

Calcium is the main mineral in bones and the key to bone health. The daily calcium requirement for women is 1000 milligrams between 19 and 50 years of age and 1200 milligrams thereafter. As the body does not produce calcium itself, it must be supplied from external sources, but fortunately it is found in many foods. Particularly good sources are green leafy vegetables, edible soft-boned fish such as sardines, and dairy products.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D supports the absorption of calcium. While sunlight helps its production in summer, artificial supplementation is needed in the low-light months, which for adults is 2,000 international units (IU) per day, according to the recommendation of Semmelweis University.

Protein intake

Low protein intake can hamper calcium absorption and can also adversely affect bone breakdown and bone-building processes. A study of post-menopausal women found that a higher protein intake was associated with higher bone density and a lower likelihood of osteoporosis. In fact, diets in which a higher proportion of calories come from protein may help preserve bone mass during weight loss.

The recommended daily intake of protein for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, although this may be slightly higher for adults who participate in vigorous exercise or are aged 40-50 years and over. In older age consuming a higher amount of protein is also justified to prevent and slow down muscle loss.

Sufficient calorie intake

Diets that promise quick results and are based on drastic calorie restriction may seem like a tempting choice for people who want to lose weight, but they are hard on the body and research shows that a sustained low-calorie intake (below 1000 kcal) can significantly reduce bone density.

Maintaining an optimal body weight

Neither low body weight nor obesity is good for the skeletal system. The latter puts a lot of strain on joints and bones, but being underweight also increases the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis. The aim should be to maintain an ideal body weight, especially as some research suggests that repeated cycles of weight loss and gain can lead to bone loss over time.

Foods high in calcium

Although milk is often cited as the main source of calcium, in fact 100 ml milk contains only 100-120 milligrams. Many foods contain much more calcium than this, so there is no need to despair if you cannot eat dairy products for some reason.

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