As I was doing my research for my post 10 Things Nutrition Experts Wish They Knew in Their 20s, I was surprised to see bone health come up frequently. Similarly, when you google things like 'nutrition for 20-somethings' bones are common topic of discussion.
Your 20s are prime time to start developing healthy lifestyle habits. Each decade your metabolism declines and it becomes more challenging to change the habits you've set in stone. Why not start developing healthy habits to prevent disease and promote good health down the road?
In your late 20s you reach your peak bone mass. This means your bones reach their maximum strength and density. Our bones begin breaking down at a slightly faster rate than they can be repaired and rebuilt. Although we can replace what is lost each day, we are no longer building our bone strength or mass.
Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because they have less bone tissue. Those with thin frames or low body weights are also at a higher risk.
Here are a few things you should be doing in your 20s to protect your bones as you get older. . .
1. Cut Back on Smoking, Drinking, and Caffeine Intake
Excessive smoking, alcohol, and caffeine intake can deplete calcium and contribute to bone loss.
2. Get in the Habit of Doing Weight Bearing Exercise
Weight bearing exercise (think body weight not just dumbbells and barbells) can help build bones and keep them strong.
Types of weight bearing exercise include:
3. Bump up your Calcium and Vitamin D Intake
Calcium is pretty well known for its role in bone health. But, in order for calcium to get into our bones, it needs vitamin D.
The recommended daily intake for calcium for men and women ages 19-50 is an average of 1,000mg/day. While soy and dairy have the highest calcium content, there are other ways to get it too.
Here are a few great sources of calcium:
Kale and other Leafy Greens
Great Northern Beans
Salmon canned with bones
Calcium fortified orange juice
Calcium fortified cereals
Manitoba Milling Co. Flax Milk
Vitamin D is not found naturally in too many foods, we primarily get it from the sun. Whether you live in a northern state with longer winters, or spend your days in air conditioned buildings in the sunny south - many people are Vitamin D deficient.
It is possible to meet your vitamin D needs with just 30 minutes outside each day (in the summer months). If you are between the ages of 19 and 50 it is recommended to get at least 600 IU of Vitamin D each day, although most people need more.
Vitamin D can be found in:
Mushrooms (if grown in the wild, outside, or treated with UV light)
Egg Yolks (from chickens raised outside or fed Vitamin D enriched feed)
Cow's Milk (fortified)
Orange Juice (fortified)
Plant Milks (fortified)