Protect your bones during Winter’s shorter days


Thanks to Daylight Savings, many of us are experiencing one less hour of sun each day. While darker days can be emotionally hard, they can also be hazardous to your bones due to a lack of vitamin D and exercise.

According to a NIH study, the amount of vitamin D we obtain from the sun is limited during the winter. Vitamin D is made naturally in the body when UVB light strikes the skin. Vitamin D supports the absorption of calcium and when vitamin D is inadequate, calcium absorption is impaired, affecting the formation of new bone tissue. Osteopenia and osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children can result.

Experts agree that incorporating the following tips can promote year-round bone health:

Increase calcium intake

Bone cells are continuously replaced, so it is important to consume calcium to keep bones strong. For adults 19 – 50 and men 51 –70, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium is 1,000 mg per day. This increases to 1,200 for women 50+ and men 70+.

“Studies show that it’s best to spread calcium intake throughout the day,” says Dr. Caitlin Nicholson, sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at RushJoliet and Naperville, IL. “It’s also best to get it from food rather than supplements.”

Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines, and soy products, such as tofu.

Increase Vitamin D intake

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults 19 – 70, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) per day. This increases to 800 for those 70+.

Besides sunlight, good sources of vitamin D include salmon, trout, whitefish, and tuna. Also, mushrooms, cheese, eggs, and D-fortified foods, such as milk and cereals.

Perform weight-bearing activities

Studies show that people who perform weight-bearing exercise increased their bone mineral density. It also prevents bone loss in women, including those with low bone density.

“Two of the best activities for bone health are weight-bearing exercise and resistance training because they promote the formation of new bone,” explains Dr. Nicholson. “Walking, jogging, climbing stairs, and lifting light weights or using resistance bands can help.”

Limit smoking and alcohol

Research suggests that tobacco and alcohol contribute to weak bones. Smoking creates inflammation which can aggravate arthritis in the joints. For women, stick to one drink a day and for men, no more than two.

Maintain healthy weight

Eating too few calories has been linked to reduced bone density. In addition, stomach surgery, 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. Consume a healthy diet with at least 1,200 calories per day to maintain good bone health.

SOURCE Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush

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