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  • Writer's pictureSandy Jolles

Why is Bone Mineral Density Important?

You’ve probably come across the phrase bone mineral density. But what exactly does mineral density measure, why is it important, and how can you keep it high, even as you age?


The Benefits of Good Bone Mineral Density


Bone mineral density measures how much calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals can be found per unit of bone mass.


The most obvious benefit of good bone mineral density is that you’re at a lower risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.


The condition affects more than 10 million Americans, with data suggesting that an additional 44 million people suffer from low mineral density and are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.


Worldwide, more than 200 million people have osteoporosis, with an estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men beyond 50 experiencing at least one osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.


Additionally, good bone mineral density means you carry more bone mass and are less likely to experience a fracture.


How to Increase (And Maintain) Bone Mineral Density


1. Eat Enough Calcium


Did you know that roughly 99 percent of the calcium in the body is found in the bones and teeth? Calcium combines with other minerals in the body, forming hard crystals that provide strength and structure to bones.


Not consuming enough calcium causes the body to release some of its internal stores to meet metabolic demands, causing the bones to weaken over time. The longer the process goes on, the more likely someone is to develop osteoporosis.


Getting calcium through food, beverages, and supplements is an excellent way to counteract these effects, allowing people to maintain stronger bones.


Good calcium sources include:

  • Milk

  • Cheese

  • Yogurt

  • Almonds

  • Sardines


2. Consume Plenty of Veggies


At first glance, vegetables might not seem all that important for bone health, but there are a couple of direct links worth considering.


First, many vegetables, especially broccoli, kale, and spinach, are rich in vitamin K, which is crucial in bone health. Getting enough of the vitamin is necessary for reducing calcium loss.


Second, vegetables are rich in other essential nutrients that are also linked to bone health in one way or the other. For instance, some research suggests that thanks to its antioxidant capacity, vitamin C could protect bone tissue from damage.


3. Avoid a Vitamin D Deficiency


Over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. Low levels of the nutrient can lead to bone loss because of the body’s impaired ability to absorb calcium.


Exposing yourself to direct sunlight is the most reliable way to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. You can also supplement with vitamin D3 during the colder months to stay safe.


4. Practice Resistance Training


Just as our muscles grow in size and strength when exposed to physical stress, so do our muscles. Research has repeatedly shown that weight training improves bone mineral density, even in older individuals.


The great news is that you don’t have to live at the gym to strengthen your bones. As little as three weekly sessions, each lasting up to 45 minutes, is enough to reap the associated benefits:

  • Improved bone mineral density

  • Increased bone size

  • Reduced risk of bone tissue loss


5. Consume Enough Protein (and Leucine)


Eating enough protein is beneficial for your health on many fronts. The nutrient supplies your body with amino acids, which support protein turnover (the replacement of old and worn-out proteins with new ones), metabolic function, fitness progress, and much more.


On top of eating enough protein, it’s also essential to consume enough leucine––one of the nine essential amino acids.


Research finds a correlation between an adequate intake of leucine and five other amino acids with higher bone mineral density.


Good food sources of leucine include:

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Meat

  • Poultry

  • Nuts

  • Soybeans

  • Chickpeas


Final Words

Maintaining healthy bones is crucial for long-term health, independence, and quality of life. Over time, the body could lose bone mass, placing people at risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by fragile and fracture-prone bones.


Good tactics for improving bone mineral density include consuming enough vegetables, protein (and leucine), vitamin D, and calcium.


Additionally, practicing some resistance exercise provides the necessary stimulus your bones need to maintain their strength and integrity.

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