Medical Questions » Bones Questions » Question No. 1340
Question:What' s the best way to avoid getting osteoporosis? I' m only 30, but I' d like to start now.
Answer:With osteoporosis, the bones get thinner due to loss of calcium; but thecause of this disease is much more complex than simply not getting enough of this mineral. There are many diet and lifestyle factors that adversely affect the body' s calcium balance, including prolonged stress, blood sugar problems, too much protein, excess stimulants (suchas tea, coffee, alcohol or chocolate), or a lack of exercise, sunlight or key bone-building vitamins and minerals including magnesium, boron, zinc and silica and vitamins B, C, D and K. For these reasons a good diet, plus all-round multivitamin and mineral supplementation, is far more protective than just supplementing calcium.

The best foods for all the bone-building minerals are seeds. If youeat a daily heaped tablespoon of pumpkin, sesame, sunflower or flax seeds, perhaps ground on cereal or nibbled as a snack throughout the day, you' ll get all the minerals you need. Peppers, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries and oranges are rich in vitamin C, while boron can be found in most fruit and vegetables, including peaches, lettuce, cabbage, peas and leafy vegetables. Vitamin D is abundant in eggs and fish.

Eating too much animal protein, such as meat two or three times a day, can be bad for bones. The reason is that excess protein makes the bloodstream more acidic, which in turn causes the body to release calcium from bone to reduce the acidity. So excessive amounts of milk and cheese, both high in protein and calcium but low in magnesium, are not necessarily the best bone food.

Soya products such as tofu or soya milk, on the other hand, are very beneficial for the bones. They contain phytoestrogens called isoflavones, which enhance bone-building and prevent the breakdown of bone. Ipriflavone, a derivative of these naturally occurring isoflavones, has been extensively tested and proven to increase bone density when given along with calcium and/or vitamin D and is now available in supplements. Later, when you reach the menopause, you might like to think about natural progesterone (see Tm a 53-year-old woman diagnosed with osteoporosis' , below).

Exercise is another excellent preventative against osteoporosis. Because the action of muscles pulling on bone builds bone, weight-bearing exercise can really help. Brisk walking, running, climbing stairs and yoga are all good for keeping your bones strong.

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