The Ultimate Guide On Bone Health For Older Men
As you age, it becomes imperative to take care of your bone health.
While the topic of bone health is generally directed at women, it’s just as essential for men. Why? Because even men are at risk of osteoporosis, which refers to a condition where your bones become weak and more susceptible to break.1
In fact, one out of four men over the age of 50 will break at least one of their bones due to osteoporosis. Another study suggests that if you’re 50 and above, the likelihood of breaking a bone because of osteoporosis is higher than it is to develop prostate cancer.2
And since men tend to develop osteoporosis when they get older, broken bones can cause more serious complications for them. Spine, wrist and hip bones break quite often.3
Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to ensure your bones stay healthy and thereby, reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis and other bone-related problems.
In this article, we’ll be covering the factors that affect bone health and recommend some effective tips to keep your bones healthy.
Factors Affecting Bone Health
Several factors can affect your bone health. These are also called “risk factors.” There are some risk factors you can control while there are some you have to accept as they are.
Diet: If your diet is low in calcium this can lead to early bone loss, reduced bone density, and an increased possibility of fractures. A low vitamin D diet can also lead to an increased risk for osteoporosis. Vitamin D is essential for it aids your body in absorbing the calcium present in your diet.4
Physical activity: If you aren’t physically active, you have a higher chance of developing osteoporosis. Physically inactive people have greater chances of getting the disease as compared to those who do.5
So if you exercise and continue to stay physically active, it can have positive impacts on your bone health.
Tobacco & alcohol use: Several studies have found that tobacco consumption causes weak bones. Smoking can also increase the chances of developing osteoporosis. Heavy alcohol consumption has also been associated with osteoporosis.6
Gender: Women have a higher chance of being diagnosed with osteoporosis. This is because their bone tissue is less dense as compared to men.7 Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean men can’t develop osteoporosis.
Bodyweight: Being extremely thin can also raise your chances of osteoporosis. If your body frame is small, you’re at risk as you may not have enough bone mass as you age.
Age: The likelihood of getting osteoporosis increases with age.
Race & family history: If you’re Asian or white, you’re more likely to get osteoporosis. Additionally, if anyone in your family has or had osteoporosis, you’re also at higher risk.8
Certain medication: Long-term usage of certain medicines can also cause bone loss.10 Corticosteroid medications like dexamethasone, prednisolone, cortisone, and prednisone are harmful to your bones. Other medicines that might affect your bone health include aromatase inhibitors, methotrexate, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and certain anti-seizure medicines like Phenobarbital and phenytoin.
Osteoporosis dramatically enhances the possibility of fatal fractures and is also the most common metabolic bone condition in humans today.11 Osteoporosis often occurs silently and you might not even notice any symptoms till you fracture a bone.12 If the symptoms do appear, they’re generally due to a fracture. The symptoms include:
- Postural changes
- Loss of height
How Do I Keep My Bones Healthy?
It’s never too late or too early for you to start taking care of your bone health. Here are some tips to help improve your bone health:
Get enough calcium & Vitamin D: Since the lack of vitamin D and calcium can negatively impact your bone health, it’s important that your diet is rich in calcium & vitamin D13. If your age is between 30-70, your calcium intake needs to be at least 1000mg per day. If you’re 70 and older, 1200 mg is recommended. Sardines, kale, broccoli, almonds, and dairy products are all rich in calcium.14
Your diet also needs to include vitamin D for it helps your body to absorb calcium. Tuna, salmon, whitefish, trout, eggs, and fortified food like milk and bread are enriched with vitamin D. Additionally, exposure to direct sunlight will also help greatly.
Exercise: By exercising regularly, you can increase your mobility as you age, minimize your chances of health problems, and improve your bone health. An ideal exercise routine consists of three elements: strength training, flexibility exercises, and aerobic conditioning.15 Strength training and flexibility exercises are quite helpful in maintaining and building bone mass.
Flexibility exercises can help improve your mobility, allowing more ease of movements. It can also help in protecting your joints and preventing injury, whether you’re doing daily tasks or playing sports.
Strength and weight-bearing exercises can help you in building muscle, increasing bone density, stabilizing your joints, and improving your alignment. Some great exercises to include for older men include brisk walking, swimming, hiking, and jogging
Consume enough protein: getting adequate protein is also critical to your bone health. In fact, protein makes up approximately 50% of your bone volume and roughly 33 percent of its mass.16 Studies have also found that low protein consumption can reduce calcium absorption and also affect bone breakdown and formation.17
Avoid substance abuse: Quitting tobacco use and limiting your alcohol consumption can positively impact your bone health.18
Regardless of your age, your bone health is of utmost importance. However, taking care of their bones is something most people take for granted since the symptoms don’t usually appear until you fracture a bone.
It’s an unfortunate fact that your bones will become thinner as you age, making you more susceptible to injury over time. And though you can’t prevent some risk factors like age, race, or family history, there are some steps you can take to help prevent your chances of deteriorating your bone health as you age.
We hope this guide has helped you in understanding the importance of bone health and how you, as an older man, can keep your bones healthy and strong as well.