Age and bones have a unique love-hate relationship. When we are young, our bones are in top shape. But as we start ageing, bone health starts getting affected. This is why each of us needs to be well informed about the importance of bone health through each stage of our life.
“While we might take bone strength for granted during our younger age, it must be prioritised as we grow older, especially for women as they are at a higher chance of developing bone health conditions post the age of 30,” said Dr R S Vashishta, orthopedic specialist, Vashishta Clinics & Hospital For Orthopaedics, New Delhi, who shared some facts that will help one understand how age affects bones.
Fact 1: Bone health in newborn babies
Bones at birth and in newborn babies are soft and flexible, made of soft and flexible material called cartilage. This helps in the child growing and attaining their adult height. After which, this cartilage is slowly deposited with calcium and hardens to form strong bones as we know.
Fact 2: Childhood (1 – 9 years): A crucial time as skeleton grows in size and density
During childhood, our bones grow in size and density because calcium and other minerals are deposited in the bone. Young children who are not getting their calcium and vitamin D3 might have bone weakness, bent legs and other issues.
Fact 3: Adolescence (10 – 20 years): A time for growth spurt. Bones developed during this time, last for a lifetime
Puberty is an important time for bone growth. Girls grow in height between 11-12 years and boys experience this at 13-14 years. Almost 90 per cent of bone strength is achieved during adolescence, which determines one’s future bone health.
Fact 4: Adulthood (20 – 30 years): Another chance to ensure good bone density
By this age, the body is no longer forming new bones easily but the final peak bone mass and strength is reached in the late twenties. Women also experience pregnancy and lactation during these years. A good diet is important to meet high demands of calcium during pregnancy and lactation. Since your daily diet might not fulfill your calcium needs, it is important to opt for calcium supplementation and one that comes with vitamin D. There are also various brands that offer chewable calcium tablets that taste good and can be consumed easily. The risk of developing weaker bones is higher for women when compared to men. Therefore, it’s always better to be forearmed to tackle any bone health conditions before they arise.
Fact 5: Middle age (30 – 50 years): When age starts taking a gradual and slow toll on the bone health
Starting at 30 years, there is a steady reduction in bone strength and even muscle tone, both in men and women. All through our life, bones are replaced. However, after 40 years of age, less bone is replaced. Hence calcium and vitamin D3 in the diet is important not only to ensure strong bones after remodelling but also to prevent bone loss.
Fact 6: After 50 years: Bones start thinning and losing minerals
Women experience menopause between 42 – 55 years which speeds up bone loss in them. Bones start losing minerals and change in structure. There is increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis, a disease condition where bones can break easily due to depleting bone mineral density, is common. Small activities like bending or sneezing can also cause fractures in a person with osteoporosis.
Fact 7: Bone health after 70: Bones are very weak and fractures are common
After 70, bone strength is at its minimum. Falling down is a common cause of bone injury in elders and hence fall prevention becomes important. A moderate exercise regime might help maintain strength, balance, and flexibility.
In conclusion, eating a balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D3, especially as people age is important. Supplementing your diet especially post 30 years of age in women with adequate calcium is also helpful in the long run to lead an active life.
“It is important to understand the benefits of exercise for bones. Exercise can help slow the rate of bone loss, improve balance and coordination, strengthen muscles among others. Older people can also exercise in water to maintain bone mass and prevent loss,” the expert told indianexpress.com.