October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day. As women over 60, osteoporosis and building bone density is a concern I hear from so many of my personal training and fitness clients. Many women don’t realize they can build bone density and prevent further loss of bone density even with a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis. Let’s talk about 3 ways to build bone density naturally.
Ensuring your body has enough calcium will help to build your bone density. Your body needs 1200 mg per day as a woman over 50. Foods with dairy like milk, cheese, and yogurt may come to mind first but there are also many foods that are rich in calcium that are non-dairy. Many women have sensitivities to dairy and may want to avoid this food group.
If this is true for you, try to eat more dark leafy greens such as kale, bok choi, broccoli, spinach, and seaweed. But did you know that oranges have calcium too? So do figs, sesame seeds, white beans, chia seeds, almonds, salmon, and non-dairy milks and yogurts.
Tip: Be sure to spread out your nutrients throughout the day for maximum absorption!
And don’t forget to step outside for a few minutes of the day in the sunshine to absorb vitamin D. If you live in a climate zone that doesn’t allow you to absorb enough from the sun, consider taking a supplement and add some more fish to your diet!
50% of bone is made up of protein. Your bones and muscles need protein to stay strong. Especially as we age, our body loses muscle mass and bone density in the natural process of aging. Strive for 90 – 100 grams of protein per day, and, if you can, focus on having a good portion early in the day. This will help your body to not start in a deficit and have the nutrients it needs to reduce cravings and help build muscle and bone density.
Focus on lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish, such as halibut, salmon, and tuna. Other sources of protein are non-dairy or dairy milk and yogurt, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds, eggs, and protein powder. Starting your day with a smoothie with protein powder, fruits, and greens is an amazing way to pack in lots of nutrients and give your day a healthy start.
Walking is not enough to build bone density if you are already a regular walker. If you are a regular walker, your body is used to this challenge and won’t build enough bone density from this activity. You need to challenge yourself!
Add a weighted vest while you are walking, vary your course with hills and different terrain, add a few sets of step-ups and downs on the curb, keeping in mind your balance and safety of course.
Working out with weights and performing weight bearing exercises for strength training 3 times a week is one of the best ways to build bone density. Challenge yourself each workout with a weight or exercise that feels like you can maintain good technique but gives you a challenge during the last few reps of your set. Focus on 8-15 reps and 2-3 sets of each exercise. Check out these exercises to build bone density:
If you have a concern with bone density, improving your balance is important. Having a fall with weakened bone density could result in a fracture. Add in a few minutes of balance exercises per day. Balance is more than just standing on one foot, check out these balance exercises:
Making some adjustments to your nutrition, your lifestyle, and swapping up your exercise routine can help to improve your bone density.
You can be proactive by joining my 90-minute webinar with tips, nutrition information, and exercises for women over 55 to build bone density.
Have you checked your bone density recently? What did it show? Are you doing something to increase your bone density score? What has helped you on your wellness journey?
Oh, 30-40 grams per meal is great! It’s 100 for the day, not for the meal! You’re on the right track!
Before getting too concerned, you need to read this important report – an investigation by NPR: https://www.npr.org/2009/12/21/121609815/how-a-bone-disease-grew-to-fit-the-prescription
The truth is, the Merck company created the term “osteopenia” and was responsible for the whole bone density scanning (some say “scamming”) program.
The medical research is not clear and consistent:
I’ve read the actual studies. Those treated with bisphonates vs those treated with a placebo: the difference in hip fractures is below 3% and mostly 1%. I’d be happy to see some studies showing that bisphosphonates are effective
I agree. Lots of side effects to the meds for osteoporosis issues also. In addition, I’ve been advised that older adults cannot absorb as much vitamin D from the sun. Therefore we really need to take a supplement. Would like to see the research on that. Third thing, there is no way I can eat 100 g of protein in a day.
Osteopenia shouldn’t be treated with medication only osteoporosis.
I intermittent fast and usually eat one meal a day…with maybe a snack a snack meaning a cup of cottage cheese or greek yogurt. My meal usually has 40 grams of protein. It’s hard to get 100 grams in one meal. However I guess with my snack added in I’m getting more like 50-60? I just turned 60 Sept 26.
I’m adding your exercise plans into my weekly routine. I was just diagnosed with osteoporosis in my hip and all of this information couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you!
I’m so glad this information is helpful for you! Be sure to watch my presentation which is linked at the end of the article for even more helpful info!
I’m so excited. I have over the past two and one half years regained over 20% bone density. While I did exercise and lift weights, I also went to an endocrinologist who was bone specialist She put me on Tymlos, which is an osteoblast enhancing medication. Then after we built new bone, we hardened it with Prolia.
Please note: do not just start adding calcium. It can make your body lose bone. See a doctor!!!