By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Bones play many roles in the body providing structure, protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium. While it’s important to build strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, you can take steps during adulthood to protect bone health, too.
Why is bone health important?
Your bones are continuously changing new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you’re young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases.
When young, it has the capability of growing faster and stronger. But as you grow older, bones function slower and become weaker. By the time you reach the age of 30, the chances of developing osteoporosis increases. Osteoporosis is a condition that makes the bones weak and brittle. 
What Causes Bone Weakness?
A number of factors can affect bone health. For example:
- The amount of calcium in your diet- A diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
- Physical activity- People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do their more-active counterparts.
- Tobacco and alcohol use- Tobacco use contributes to weak bones and regularly having more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or two alcoholic drinks a day for men may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Gender- You’re at greater risk of osteoporosis if you’re a woman, because women have less bone tissue than do men.
- Size- You’re at risk if you are extremely thin (with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small body frame because you might have less bone mass to draw from as you age.
- Age- Your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
- Hormone levels- Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. Prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.
- Eating disorders and other conditions- People who have anorexia or bulimia are at risk of bone loss. In addition, stomach surgery (gastrectomy), weight-loss surgery, and conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and Cushing’s disease can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
- Certain medications- Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone, is damaging to bone. Other drugs that might increase the risk of osteoporosis include aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications, such as phenytoin and phenobarbital, and proton pump inhibitors.
What to Do for Healthy Bones & Joints?
Whether you are young and building bones or old and preserving them, bone health can be maintained if the following steps are incorporated into the lifestyle:   
- Healthy Diet Choices
Your bones need a variety of nutrients, such as calcium and vitamins C, D, and K. Getting enough calcium is essential to keep the bones strong and healthy. The best way to ensure that is by including calcium-rich food in the diet. Some of the foods that we recommend you include are:
- Dairy products such as low-fat yogurt or milk.
- Including nuts & greens to the diet such as almonds, broccoli & kale.
- Others food include canned salmon with bones, sardines and soy products, such as tofu.
- Have fortified oatmeal for breakfast.
- Try canned seafood.
- Try canned seafood.
- Eat cereal fortified with vitamin D, eggs, and fatty fish
- Option For Supplements
Please note that this is applicable to only those who have been prescribed to take supplements. Supplements are recommended to only those who reach a specific age & are especially suffering from Osteoporosis. When taking high doses of calcium supplements keep in mind that overdosing can be hazardous to your heart.
- Consume Less Caffeine
That every morning dose of caffeine & the occasional in-betweens are all good to go till the time it is monitored. Once you start consuming more than you should, the bones begin to lose calcium. At times like these, make a healthy lifestyle change. Try consuming half-decaffeinated coffee or drinks that are naturally caffeine-free, such as water or juice.
- Say No to Substance Abuse
Alcohol and smoking causes more damage to your body than just liver & lungs. Limit alcohol intake to a maximum of 2 drinks per day. Drug abuse damages physical and mental health in many ways especially the skeletal system.
- Evaluate your medicines
There are many medications that can have a very bad impact on the bones, especially Corticosteroids which are prescribed to treat arthritis. They weaken bones by decreasing the amount of calcium absorbed in the intestines and increasing the amount excreted by the kidneys. In such cases, the best way to ensure bone health is by opting for a lower dose of medication over a short time period.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.
Bone health is important at all stages of life. Having strong bones is something people tend to take for granted, as symptoms often don’t appear until bone loss is advanced. Fortunately, there are many nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help build and maintain strong bones .