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Bone health not just for grandparents

Colin Lux

Issue date: 9/24/10 Section: News
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College students can take steps now to ensure good bone health later on, by monitoring their calcium and vitamin D intake, and engaging in exercise that requires aerobic and weight bearing activity.
College students can take steps now to ensure good bone health later on, by monitoring their calcium and vitamin D intake, and engaging in exercise that requires aerobic and weight bearing activity.
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Students may think that now they're young and strong and won't have to worry about osteoporosis, but they would be wrong. This chronic illness may be closer than most people think. Poor lifestyle choices and our nasty little habits can easily catapult us into a downward spiral to this and other annoying bone-related illnesses such as chronic back pain.

At the tender age of 35, you begin to lose bone mass (meaning bones become less dense and weaker), which is why it is important to strengthen your bones now so when this happens, you can afford this loss.

Your mother probably told you at one point in life that you need to drink your milk so you have strong bones. Although it may be painful to admit, you know she's right. It's very important to monitor your calcium intake. The most common calcium-rich foods are yogurt, cheese, and milk (soy or cow's) which each provide 300 mg of calcium. But simply having one serving of these a day is not enough. Just one cup of yogurt or milk yields only one fourth of the 1200 mg of calcium you need per day. Try to increase your dairy intake by drinking one cup of milk with each meal and having yogurt for a snack, or the znext time you have a ham sandwich, add cheese.

But don't forget, your body can't use the calcium unless it has vitamin D to help! Try to get at least 15 minutes of sunlight every day. Cleveland is notorious for some dark winter days, so be sure to have vitamin D-rich foods as well. While milk generally has enough, it is always a good idea to read your food labels.

Along with diet, exercise is another great way to improve bone strength. "You need 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day and weight-bearing exercise to stimulate bone remodeling," explained professor Jane Marek, orthopedic nursing expert and nursing instructor of FPB Nursing School. "You also need to maintain core and abdominal muscle strength to give your bones support," she added. You can practice proper body mechanics by not slouching or by bending at your knees instead of your waist when picking something up off the floor.

Weight plays a key role in bone health as well. "Overall weight can add constant stress on your bones, while being under-weight can cause bone loss," Marek stressed. "It's best to be within your ideal weight range for you particular height.".

Common college fixtures like smoking and heavy backpacks can also gravely impact bone health. Besides weight problems, smoking not only decreases bone mass but also decreases your bones'ability to heal properly, which in turn increases your risk for fracture. Excessively heavy backpacks and bags can cause an imbalance in your posture and pain as well.

But what people really need to do is strengthen their bones now before they begin to lose their mass. "Proper posture, diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, aerobic and weight-bearing activity are key features to promoting bone health," said Marek.
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Issue Summary


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