It is never too early to begin supplementing calcium and vitamin D for building bone mass. Osteoporosis is a common problem among the elderly, but is totally preventable and treatable. Women especially are at risk, because they can lose up to 5% of their bone mass every year for up to seven years after menopause. With crippling fractures and death from complications of fractures on the rise, we need to be sure that we are letting people know how vitamins and supplements can help them prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Losing our bone mass
Our bodies only build bone for the first 20-30 years of our lives. After that, we begin to deplete the stores of calcium that we have. We lose a lot of bone mass in our 30’s and 40’s. Some people are already losing bone mass in their 20’s and are unaware of it. Vitamins and supplements, diet and exercise are crucial to retaining calcium stores.
Your body constantly uses calcium to support your muscles, heartbeat, nerve function, and blood coagulation. This calcium needs to be in your blood, so your body constantly takes it from your bones. If you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, then your bones are quickly depleted and left brittle and porous.
Some people don’t understand just how serious osteoporosis can be. You don’t have to fall down or have some sort of accident to break a brittle bone. Brittle bones are a lot like porcelain lace and do not have the flexibility of healthy bone. They are lacking the calcium that makes them hard. They do not have the healthy living cells of normal bone that are responsible for repairing damage. Bones can break and crumble with something as simple as a sneeze, bending over, or moving a kitchen chair.
Preserving and constantly replacing your bones stores is essential. A normal person needs as much as five cups of milk every day to keep up with their body’s calcium requirement and you could need even more if you are pregnant, lactating, or in menopause. Most people cannot keep up with this requirement, plus, most people can’t even absorb all of the calcium in dairy products. Better sources of calcium include certain greens, beans and broccoli. Eating enough of these foods every day is not likely to happen, so supplementing is highly recommended by doctors.
In addition to calcium supplements, you need vitamin D to help the calcium be absorbed. Many people are unaware that they are vitamin D deficient. Working indoors, using sunscreen, and relying on milk to provide vitamin D all contribute to becoming deficient. It is extremely difficult to put vitamin D in milk. Recent studies show that over 70% of milk samples do not contain nearly the amount of vitamin D that is printed on the label. Since vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption, most doctors urge patients to supplement with vitamin D and calcium together.
Other vitamins and supplements are important, too. Magnesium is required to convert vitamin D into an active form and is also essential for shuttling calcium into the bones. Magnesium usually comes from vegetables, but magnesium is depleted from soil over time, so vegetables now have less magnesium than we might have thought.
Talk to your doctor before you buy vitamins. Taking the right combination of vitamins and supplements on a daily basis can help you to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Remember that it is never too early to be concerned with your bone health, so talk with your physician today.