Protecting Our Bones

Dr. Michael McNulty, an orthopedic surgeon in partnership with Southern Orthopedic Specialists and a father of three, helped answer every spine-tickling question we had about bone health.

Beyond the typical vitamins and supplements, the trick to keeping your bones in good shape really depends on the bone-licking good meals you eat and how you exercise.

“With respect to diet, the key components are fruits and vegetables rich in bone-promoting elements like calcium and vitamin D as well as either plant or animal-based proteins. With respect to exercise, weight-bearing exercise is the key. While sometimes not the most friendly on our joints, the repetitive impact of walking, jogging, or sports help promote bone formation and remodeling,” shares Dr. McNulty.

When it comes to what we eat and drink, many of us grew up being told that milk will fortify and strengthen our bones. But, is there any truth to that?

“Well, yes and no,” answers Dr. McNulty. “Milk is high in calcium which promotes bone health but so do other dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified beverages like almond and soy milk. Calcium is also found in dark-green leafy vegetables, dried peas and beans, fish with bones, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals.”

It’s no surprise but as we age, the needs of our bones change. Sometimes a simple over-the-counter multivitamin just won’t cut it, and it might be time to visit your doctor, especially if you are experiencing bone and joint discomfort or have already been diagnosed with weak bones.

“For older adults, particularly post-menopausal women, regular bone density tests are very important. If the bone density test results are low (osteopenia or osteoporosis), increased amounts of the bone promoting vitamins may be necessary as well as potentially prescription medications,” advises Dr. McNulty.

A fear of many is developing brittle, easily-breakable bones in later years and while this problem can be attributed to genetics, proactive prevention is key. Dr. McNulty notes that the best thing we can do while young is to maximize bone density which will help maintain your quality of life in old age. Staying healthy by not smoking, maintaining a well-balanced diet, and getting plenty of proper exercise will keep your bones in good shape.

All in all, looking out for our children’s needs as well as our own can feel like a daily uphill battle. The best thing to do is try your best every day to meet everyone’s needs and set them up for good health in the future.

“As my parents always told me, try to do something active every day and a colorful plate is a healthy plate,” offers Dr. McNulty.

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