From the North Pole to Atlanta, an icy Arctic vortex chilled most of us to the bone this winter. But a deep freeze might not be all that's happened to your inner scaffolding. Reports we've seen also suggest that if you're not bolstering your vitamin K and D-2 or D-3 (read on for the best way) in the wintertime, your body can't make enough of these bone-friendly vitamins, and that can accelerate bone loss. That's why it so important to protect yourself from developing brittle bones or osteoporosis, no matter what your age.
Most studies show building strong bones as a teenager and young adult is the best way to dodge life-threatening fractures that effect one in two women and, yes, one in three men past age 50. That's right guys, don't underestimate your odds of developing osteoporosis, especially if you have clinically low testosterone levels or you get hormone therapy for advanced prostate cancer. Too few men get the checkups and bone-saving treatments they need.
So, no bones about it: Young, middle-age or senior, here's how to use the latest skeleton-strengthening science to keep your bones sturdy:
1. Keep up your calcium
You need 1,000mg a day until age 50; 1,200mg daily after that. Get at least half of that from your diet, and add some from supplements. (Dr. Mike takes 600mg of calcium daily, along with vitamin D-3.) Good food sources include fat-free dairy (about 300mg per cup of milk or yogurt), kale (120mg in 1 cup, cooked), white beans (113mg in 1/2 cup) and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice (up to 500mg per serving).
2. Add vitamins D-3 and K
We recommend 1,000 IU vitamin D-3 from a supplement, and for adults, 90mcg K from your multivitamin daily. They help your body absorb and use calcium. Tip: Get a blood test to measure your D level; aim for 50-80 ng/ml.
3. Tackle belly fat
If you've got excess visceral fat in your midsection (a waist larger than 35 inches for women, 40 for men), you may have excess fat within your bone marrow as well (there's always supposed to be some). That excess stimulates release of inflammation-boosting compounds that weaken bone. Go to sharecare.com for tips how to flatten your belly, fast.
4. Skip high-sodium foods
A salty diet loaded with processed foods, take-out and restaurant meals, and diet colas, could raise your fracture risk four-fold. Instead, eat more fresh, frozen or canned veggies, all without added sodium, and snack on a small handful of nuts daily; you'll get potassium, a surprise bone builder. Just one cola per month can weaken bone density in your hips. It could be because phosphoric acid can leach calcium from bones, or because caffeine (in diet or regular soda) blocks calcium absorption.
5. Challenge your bones
Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, running and strength-training, stimulates cells in your bones to keep rebuilding your frame. And exercise inspires stem cells to become bone rather than turning into fat!
Know when to get a bone scan. Women age 65 and older, and men age 70 and older get greater benefit than risk from a bone density scan. This check looks for of early signs of bone thinning (osteopenia), giving you time to make lifestyle changes, so you don't develop full-blown osteoporosis.
Or if you have osteoporosis already, you can discuss using medications that may help stop bone loss, too. Just getting scanned could lower your odds for a hip fracture by 36 percent.
One new report suggests that 66 percent of women with early bone loss miss the chance to stop the erosion if they wait until 65 to get a scan. You may need an earlier bone check if: You had a bone fracture after age 50; one of your parents has or had osteoporosis; you're underweight; a smoker; have rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes or chronic liver disease; or you've taken prednisone for three months or more at any time in your adult life.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.