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Calcium, exercise among ways to maintain bone and muscle health

Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension


Bone and muscle health is important to maintain at an early age to prevent problems later in life. According to the October 2010 edition of the Nutrition Action Healthletter, “One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis (or brittle bones).” In addition, “Six months after a hip fracture, only 15 percent of patients can walk across a room without help.”


Many people also have low bone mass that leads to osteoporosis. To prevent fractures from falls and osteoporosis, eating right and getting enough weight-bearing physical activity are key.


Eating right includes getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and keeping acid production and salt intake under control. Adequate calcium intake has long been known to help improve and maintain bone health. Vitamin D is linked to both bone strength and muscle strength. Strong bones help prevent a fracture if there is a fall and strong muscles help prevent the fall in the first place. There is some evidence to indicate that vitamin D may strengthen the fast-twitch fibers, which would react to catch a person before actually falling.


High levels of acid in the blood stream can cause both bone and muscle loss. Acid build up is caused by consuming too many grains and proteins. Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes of Tufts University School of Medicine recommends focusing on eating fewer grain foods and on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to maintain healthy acidity levels. Excess salt intake in the form of sodium chloride can also cause calcium leaching. As the body gets rid of the salt, it also gets rid of needed calcium.


Dawson-Hughes also recommends at least a half hour of exercise daily, either aerobic (like walking) or weight training. Check out the University of Missouri Extension Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program for information and strength-training classes in your area.


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Last Updated 03/18/2011