As we age, both men and women experience a loss of bone mass as well as normal wear and tear on the joints. Small preventive measures can help to protect joints and keep bones strong – use these suggestions:

Lifestyle For Healthy Bones:

  • Get regular exercise. Weight-bearing exercise (walking, jogging or any exercise done on the feet) and strength training for muscles can help fortify bones and build bone mass.
  • Don’t smoke and keep alcohol intake moderate. Both changes will help preserve bone and slow bone loss.

For Healthy Joints:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Losing just a few unnecessary pounds can alleviate excess mechanical stress on the affected joint(s).
  • Avoid intense activities that can injure or strain the joint cartilage.
  • Get exercise. Performed at a level that does not stress the affected joint(s), exercise can be helpful – it can strengthen surrounding muscles that support and protect the joint. Swimming, stationary cycling and light weight training are good choices, as are stretching exercises such as yoga and T’ai chi.

Nutrition For Healthy Bones:

  • Get enough calcium. Non-fat dairy products (such as yogurt and non-fat milk); non-dairy, calcium-rich foods such as sardines and canned salmon (with bones); dark leafy greens; whole soy foods such as tofu; and calcium-fortified products such as soymilk and orange juice are good sources.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta carotene (found in fruits and vegetables) have been linked to higher total bone mass.
  • Eat magnesium-rich foods every day. Spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli, lentils, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are good sources.
  • Watch protein intake. Excessive dietary protein can promote calcium loss from bones.
  • Cut back on caffeine, and decrease sodium intake. Too much of either can promote calcium excretion.

For Healthy Joints:

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Focus on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold water, oily fish like salmon and sardines, and walnuts or freshly ground flaxseeds and spices like ginger and turmeric – all help reduce inflammation. Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid has more information and specific recommendations.
  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Found in fresh vegetables and fruit, antioxidants may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.

Supplements For Healthy Bones:

  • Calcium. People who don’t get enough calcium may lose bone mass faster and fracture bones more easily. Taking half as much magnesium with supplemental calcium will help offset any constipating effects.
  • Vitamin D. It facilitates the absorption of calcium, helping to support healthy and strong bones. It also promotes bone mineralization.
  • Vitamin K. It helps activate certain proteins that are involved in the structuring of bone mass. Low intake of vitamin K has been linked to low bone density.

For Healthy Joints:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin. These two supplements are from substances naturally found in healthy cartilage and appear to relieve pain, improve joint mobility, and slow osteoarthritis-related damage to the joints.
  • SAM-e. This naturally occurring molecule (S-adenosylmethioine) delivers sulfur to the cartilage, which helps build strong joints.
  • Evening primrose oil. A source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which may help maintain healthy joints.
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs. Ginger, holy basil, turmeric, green tea, rosemary, Scutellaria and hu zhang all have naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds that act as COX-2 inhibitors.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Use varieties that are molecularly distilled from the oil of fish or krill and contain EPA and DHA, which have been shown in studies to help maintain bone health and joint flexibility.

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