We all notice small changes as we age. Smile lines, crow’s feet, maybe a few (or many) gray hairs. Marks of wisdom, I like to say! Another aspect of physical aging you might notice is changes in bone and joint health. These changes can be minor—like experiencing less mobility or less flexibility in your elbows and knees. Maybe you experience more pain and inflammation after a particularly rigorous hike. Without proper care these changes can become more serious, leading to diseases of the bone and joints such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or osteomalacia.
If you’ve been following me for some time, then you know I believe aging is not something you need to be afraid of. We hold more power over many aspects of the aging process than society and Western medicine want us to believe. However, to use that power, we must understand the changes our body naturally goes through over time and care for our body’s changing needs. Let’s talk about how our bones and joints differ throughout the aging process and what you can do to maintain strong osteo health at any stage of life.
Bone and Joint Health Throughout the Lifespan
Perhaps the most significant change in bone health during aging is that of bone density. But what does this mean? Bone density directly refers to the amount of mineral in bone tissue. Bone minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and citrate ions. Bone mass peaks between the ages of 25 and 30. By age 40, most individuals begin to experience some level of bone loss, mostly dependent on lifestyle factors. These factors are especially essential for women, because after menopause the drop in estrogen we experience can result in even more bone density loss.
It isn’t just our bones that change with age—we feel it in our joints, too! Knee joints can begin to lose cartilage; minerals can deposit, resulting in calcification; and lubrication can diminish. These changes can result in pain, inflammation, and arthritis if not tended to.
Here’s the good news: there are several things you can do to prevent significant loss of bone density and joint quality! Here are my recommendations for optimizing your osteo health:
This is first on my list for a reason! Exercise is one of the best—if not the best way to prevent health issues related to bone density and joint quality—and especially weight-bearing exercise. Studies show that weight-bearing exercise slows the rate of bone density loss and it stimulates the growth of new bone! Great examples include dancing, stair climbing, walking, jogging, and yard work.
This is a recommendation I give for many health ailments, because it’s true! Drinking adequate water increases the amount of synovial fluid in your joints. Synovial fluid is a thick liquid whose primary job is to keep your joints moving smoothly. In addition, your body’s cartilage is made up of around 80 percent water, so increasing your hydration status will, in turn, make for more lubricated joints!
Yoga is simply amazing for osteo health. The increased flexibility and range of motion yoga leads to protects your precious joints from injuries, while the gentle weight-bearing movements strengthen and build bone. The great thing about yoga is you don’t have to pay for a membership to do it—even a few yoga moves per day at home can benefit your health.
There are a few different supplements I recommend that can make a huge difference in overall bone and joint health. The first is vitamin D. Now, this might sound confusing—because vitamin D wasn’t on that earlier list of bone minerals. The reason vitamin D is vital for bone health is because one of its primary functions is to assist the body in efficiently absorbing calcium. Without enough vitamin D, serious bone mineral loss can occur. I love Thorne’s Vitamin D + K2 Liquid because it includes the addition of vitamin K, which aids in more efficient and effective calcium absorption!
The other supplement I recommend for optimal osteo health is Thorne’s Cal-Mag Citrate + Vitamin C. A daily calcium supplement is so important for both young and older adults, and especially for post-menopausal women. The magnesium in this supplement helps the body to physiologically relax, aiding in the prevention of injuries and cramping. And the vitamin C is an added bonus—promoting healthy collagen formation and supporting the body’s immune function!
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to live with weak bones and swollen joints simply due to age. There are many ways to keep those bones and joints strong well into your sixties and beyond! For more tips on maintaining osteo health through the years, book a one-on-one with me! I can’t wait to partner with you on your health journey.