10 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Bones Healthy and Strong After 60
“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Remember that famous line? It was in a TV commercial years ago, and though it has since been used in countless stories, jokes, and memes, it still relates to a serious issue.
When we are young and growing, our bones are growing along with the rest of our body, getting longer, thicker, and stronger. This process continues roughly to age 30, when most people achieve their peak bone mass.
After reaching that milestone we are generally losing more bone mass than we are adding every year. As we age, developing osteoporosis or osteopenia, both conditions of weak and brittle bones, largely depends on how much bone mass we have “in the bank” as it were.
It’s analogous to saving money while actively working then hoping that your funds last once you retire. The more bone mass you have attained while growing up will determine your chances of developing osteoporosis when you age.
Ways to Build Healthy Bones
So, what’s a woman to do to keep her bones healthy? Since bone loss is a natural event in aging, we can only slow the process with these easy steps you can include in your routine:
Vitamins D and K
Sunlight is a great starting point when it comes to boosting your vitamin D levels, so get out on a sunny day and take off your sunglasses for 15 minutes. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, and trout are good sources, so include fish in your diet.
Eggs, mushrooms, fortified foods like milk and some cereals, cheese, sauerkraut and other fermented foods will definitely help. And if you’re wanting even more assurance, certain supplements will help as well – specifically a calcium supplement with some magnesium (3 to 1 ratio is best) and vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and 600 international units (IUs) per day is recommended for most people up to age 70. After 70 raise it up to 800 IU/day.
Dairy products, broccoli, kale, soy products like tofu, almonds, and canned salmon with bones or sardines are good sources of calcium. I recommend fermented dairy products like kefir and yogurt because they also feed your gut.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) for adults, 1200/day for women over 50 and men over 70.
Vegetables Rich in Vitamin C
Stimulate the production of bone-forming cells and increase bone mineral density by consuming veggies rich in vitamin C. These are broccoli, onions, cabbage, and other green and yellow vegetables.
Eating 80-100 grams of protein every day has been shown to slow bone loss.
The main protein in bones, collagen, contains the amino acids that help build bone, muscle, and other tissues.
Get a double hitter each day by having a smoothie with collagen protein along with a cup of bone broth. As a side benefit, your skin will respond by getting plumper and less wrinkly.
Magnesium and Zinc
Our bodies are a system that works best when it is fully stocked. Magnesium helps convert Vitamin D into a form that promotes calcium absorption and zinc helps make up the mineral portion of your bones.
These two minerals occur in various foods (like meat, poultry, eggs, legumes, and seeds) and supplements are readily available.
Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and help protect against bone loss. Fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds are good sources. A good omega-3 fatty acid supplement is helpful too, but make sure it’s high quality and clean (plus no fish burps).
Avoid Very-Low-Calorie Diets
Diets that provide less than 1,000 calories per day can cause a loss of bone density. With a typical slowing of your metabolism, they can also cause rebound hunger and muscle mass loss in addition to harming bone health.
That doesn’t mean intermittent fasting is off the table. Just make sure your diet is within the Target Trifecta – 20 grams of protein in each meal, 5 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of healthy fat (like MCT oil, avocado, or nuts).
Walk, jog, climb stairs, lift weights. All of these can slow bone loss, especially the weights. Another advantage of lifting weights is gaining upper body strength, which is critical for women to be able to pull themselves back up off the ground in case of a fall.
Don’t smoke. Don’t drink excessively or regularly. Women should limit themselves to no more than one drink a day and men to two drinks.
Consult with Your Doctor
If you feel you are at risk or have had a broken bone recently, you may want to take a bone density test. If the results are concerning, or you have risk factors, there may be medication to help slow down your bone loss.
Focus on Nutrition
Bone health is critical for living a long and healthy life, and it is never too early to pay attention to what you eat and do to promote healthy bones. So, here are a couple recipes to help you build your bones.
Target Trifecta Smoothie
1 cup nut milk of your choice, no dairy
1 cup (handful) baby organic spinach
1/4 to 1/2 avocado (depending on size) or 1 tsp MCT oil
1/2 tsp green matcha tea
1 scoop Perfect Paleo Protein (any flavor), or use a dairy-free, no carb protein
1 scoop Just Juiced Veggies (optional – this will add more nutrients)
2 scoops FiberMender (optional – this will increase your fiber) water or ice as necessary depending on your preferred consistency
Toss all ingredients in a blender, whirl, and serve.
NOTE: If you’re using a lower-powered blender, you may want to add the greens and nut milk on the first round, add the additional ingredients, and then blend again to get a smoother consistency.
Bone Broth Recipe
2 lbs. chicken bones or chicken feet (the feet have higher collagen content and gel when refrigerated)
1 yellow onion
2 medium/large carrots
2 large celery stalks
10+ garlic cloves (to taste)
2 bay leaves
2T black peppercorns
2T salt (pink Himalayan or other high quality salt is preferred)
¼ oz. each of fresh thyme and rosemary
2T apple cider vinegar
Put all ingredients in your slow cooker or InstantPot and cover with water. You can spend time cutting up the onion, carrots, and celery, but it really isn’t necessary. You can cook as long as you’d like and the longer the better.
In an InstantPot, you can cook for 2–3 hours and in a slow cooker at least 24 hours. If you have the large InstantPot you can fill to the MAX FILL line and expect to get around 5 quarts of finished product.
Strain the broth and refrigerate.
When cold, the broth should be thick and hopefully a gel, with the fat layer on top easy to skim off. If not a gel, use more bones on the next batch, but 2 pounds of feet should be plenty as they have a higher collagen content.
For added flavor, you can also roast your bones/feet first at 400F degrees for 20–30 minutes and make sure to scrape and add all the crusty stuff from the roasting pan since there is a lot of flavor there. You can also roast your vegetables with the bones before adding everything into the pot for cooking.
For beef broth, you may want to use up to 4 pounds and include a variety of oxtail, short ribs, or knuckle bones. You will also need to blanch or par-boil (15 minutes) the bones first and then roast them at 450F for 30–45 minutes to develop the richer flavor.
When was the last time you thought about your bone health? Have you measured your bone density? Are you at risk of osteoporosis? What do you do to slow down loss of bone mass? Do you know of any tasty recipes that promote bone growth? Please share your thoughts with our community.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation.