Strengthen bone health with an FSA

During our 20s and 30s, long-term health issues are rarely on our minds, but for millions of Americans, this is a time period that could lay the foundation for their future health prospects. Osteoporosis is rarely on the minds of 20-somethings, but the health decisions they make to improve their bone mass before the age of 30 could have a truly tangible impact on their risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.

Today, 10 million Americans (the majority of which are women) suffer from osteoporosis, which is a condition that refers to dangerously low bone density that can result in fractures that largely affects elderly and frail individuals.

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month sponsored by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and we here at know that healthy choices we make now can mean all the difference for your bone health in the future. How can you start building bone density on your own?

Here are a few ways to get started to strengthen bone health:

Calcium supplementation

When we talk about bone health, most people immediately bring up calcium. While it's true that calcium consumption plays a huge role in supporting the strength of teeth and bones, ingesting foods fortified with vitamin D can help the body absorb calcium more easily. Calcium can be found in a variety of foods and supplements, including yogurt, milk, cheese, spinach, kale, collard greens, soybeans/soy products and more.

Boost your potassium intake

Recent studies have found that in both pre- and post-menopausal women, diets high in potassium can have a tangible long-term effect on bone density. A 2005 study of pre-menopausal women of high potassium vs. low potassium diets revealed that women who ate a high potassium diet showcased an 8-10 percent improvement in bone density when compared to those who ingested a low potassium diet. Potassium may contribute to the reduction of acids that break down calcium in the body, so adding high potassium foods like bananas, yogurt, sweet/white potatoes can be a wise choice for long-term bone health.

Increase your physical activity

A sedentary lifestyle can substantially increase your risk for osteoporosis later in life, which is why regular physical activity is so valuable. Maintaining a low body weight has long-term positive benefits for bone density, and physical trainers recommend weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, skiing, and others have the most tangible effect on long-term bone health. Maintaining this commitment to physical activity has real benefits as we age, as improved strength and mobility can prevent slips and falls that can result in bone injuries.

Cut down on caffeine

While your morning coffee may seem indispensable, it may not be doing your long-term bone health any favors. Excessive caffeine consumption can interfere with the body's ability to absorb calcium, as studies have shown that 2 or more cups of coffee daily accelerated bone loss in subjects that didn't consume enough calcium. For those who drink large amounts of coffee, compensating with additional calcium in their diets can help to mitigate any impact from caffeine.

Kick those bad habits!

Do you smoke? Do you over-imbibe on wine, beer and spirits too often? Cigarettes can interfere with the body's ability to absorb calcium, while heavy alcohol consumption can inhibit the role of vitamin D in the body, so both habits have a negative effect on bone health. Quit smoking and keep drinks at moderate levels (1 drink per day for women, 2 for men) to keep your bones healthy.

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