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The Ultimate Guide to Bone Health for Millennials

The Ultimate Guide to Bone Health for Millennials

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Calcium, calcium, calcium! Television ads, cafeteria posters, and billboards are constantly harassing us to down another glass of milk, because dairy equals calcium which equals healthy bones. America’s sitting at number three for global milk consumption, so we obviously have these bone matters under control, right? Well, truth be told, the campaign against bone disease hasn’t come close to the success of all those Got Milk ads. America has 10 million people coping with osteoporosis, and another 50 million teetering on the edge of bone disease. Our parents and grandparents were told that dairy was the answer, but it’s clear that bone health takes more than an extra cup of yogurt. Here’s a guide to bone health for today’s generation.

The Bone Down: Why Should You Care?

We have all kinds of advanced tests and technologies around these days, but they don’t mean much when it comes discovering bone loss. Our blood requires a constant supply of calcium to take care of muscular function, clotting, balancing pH, and so on. When our diet falls short of our calcium needs, our cells make up the difference by pulling it out of our bones. Years and years of this leads to low mass and density, which makes for weak and brittle bones.

Osteoporosis, a degeneration and weakening of bones, is a health problem that millions are at risk for. Women should pay extra attention as it’s projected that half of females over 50 will suffer a broken bone from osteoporosis. Men have it a little easier, but a quarter of males 50 and over are at the same risk, so prevention is something we all need to think about.

Bone Health for Millennials - A 5-step guide to building stronger bones // The PumpUp Blog

Bone Health for Millennials - A 5-step guide to building better bones

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Diet

This comes as no surprise, but diet plays a HUGE role in bone health. Foods like meat, dairy, and sugar can wreak havoc on our bodies because they’re acid-forming foods that threaten our extra-sensitive pH balance. Fortunately for us, calcium is able to maintain equilibrium with its alkaline nature, but that means making trips to the bone bank for a calcium withdrawal. Long story short, all meat and no veggies makes Johnny a calcium-depleted boy.

We all know dairy can get us a quick dose of calcium, but there are other options worthy of our kitchen. Collards, Broccoli Rabe, Bok Choy, Sardines, and even figs and oranges will give you a hearty (or should I say bony) dose of calcium. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that adults ages 19-50 hit 1,000mg a day, so take a few days to monitor your calcium intake. Once you have an idea of what a bone healthy diet looks like, you can find ways to easily meet those daily needs.

Exercise

Bone health for millennials : the ultimate guide // The PumpUp Blog

 

Getting your sweat on does more than strengthen and tone your muscle. It develops your bones too! When you move your body against the forces of gravity, you’re putting strain on your body. Our bones respond to this subtle strain by building density. That’s great news when it comes to bone health because higher density makes for stronger bones that are more resistant to breakage.

Get to work strength-training those bones! Everything from light walking to heavy weight-lifting will firm up your calcified tissues. The more weight you bear the more bones will densify, so put that fancy equipment to use or get creative with fun and easy weight alternatives.

Vitamin D

Healthy bones take more than just calcium. When it comes to maintaining calcium levels, Vitamin D is the boss. This bad boy boasts a list of health benefits, but it’s especially important for bones because it helps our bodies with calcium absorption.

Sad as it is, you really can’t hit your daily needs with diet. You can always pick up a good Vitamin D supplement (which may actually be a necessity if you’re deficient or living up North), but this essential nutrient is available for free. All it takes is some sunlight!

The general rule of thumb is to get 15-20 minutes of sunshine a day, but that figure will vary depending on skin color, time of day, season, and location. Supplements, sunlight, or both, aim your daily target for 800-2,0oo IU.

Omega-3's

Omega-3 fatty acids can actually help rebuild bones. Studies have shown that Omega-3’s can maintain bone mass, and perhaps even increase it. Calcium seems to be more easily absorbed with the help of Omega-3’s, and bone strength and growth boosted. There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA (the most important). The notable Dr. Weil recommends aiming for a daily intake of 700-1,000 mg of EPA and 200-500 mg of DHA.

Just about everyone knows that fatty fish = fatty acids, but you can get your daily dose of EPA and DHA without stinking up your kitchen. There’s plenty of plant-based sources shining in fatty acidness. Hemp, chia, flax and sesame seeds are some of the highest sources, and they can be added to everything from oatmeal to desserts. Try tossing them into your next smoothie or protein shake for a quick and easy omega fix.

Vitamin K

Bone health for millennials: the guide

 

This vitamin is popular for its role in blood clotting, but science is showing that Vitamin K is an important cofactor in strong bones. Studies suggest that Vitamin K aids in regulating calcium as well as forming bones, and research in Japan has shown that it can even reverse bone loss and boost bone mass.

Dark leafy greens are the answer to your Vitamin K needs. Kale, Spinach, and Collards are loaded with K, with honorable mentions going out to fellow greens like Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts. Our daily target sits at 90 micrograms for women and 120 micrograms for men.

Make It Happen

Bone disease may be a problem for millions, but a healthy lifestyle can make all the difference for us. And it can be so easy! What do you do to make bone health a simple part of your lifestyle?


This guide to bone health was a post written by Ash Stevens. Follow her on Twitter @AshStevens000 and check out her blog.

You might have seasonal affective disorder and not even know it. Here's what to do

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By Nataliya Schafer  

We know that too much time spent in the sun can be bad for our skin, but not enough time in the sun can be bad for our body and mind.

During the summer, we have picnics, go on bike rides, swim, take long walks, soak up the sunlight, and generally spend lots of time being active.

During fall and winter, it gets dark earlier and light later, meaning it’s possible to spend all daylight hours working indoors. It’s cold –sometimes really cold – and windy, and wet. Who wants to deal with that?

Spending the night under that thick blanket on the couch with House of Cards on a frigid Friday night is just so much more appealing than taking the bus across town to ultimately wait in a long line at a restaurant/bar during a deep freeze.

If you’re usually a go-go-type person in the summer but feel like you couldn’t drag yourself off the couch if your job depended on it in the winter months, then you have a problem – you may have Seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD or winter depression) isn’t fully understood, but it’s believed to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. We know that sunlight can affect the brain’s chemicals; we don’t exactly know what this effect is, but it likely has a lot to do with vitamin D

Sunlight is one of our body’s best and only sources of vitamin D. When there’s less of it and when our bodies are bundled up in layers or hidden in warm houses, it’s impossible to absorb any solar vitamin D.

Lack of sunlight can increase the production of melatonin (the body’s sleep chemical), leaving a person with SAD feeling much more exhausted during the winter months. It can also decrease serotonin (the body’s feel-good chemical that also regulates appetite, memory, mood, and sleep) production.

All in all, SAD can make someone who’s a ray of sunshine in the summer months a hungry, unfocused, sleep-deprived, depressed grump.

But, make no mistake – depression of any kind, be it seasonal or year-round, is no joke. SAD isn’t less real than those with year-round depression just because it only happens for certain parts of the year. The symptoms are all the same and they are just as painful.

Below is a list of some foods that may help boost vitamin D levels in people with SAD:

Sometimes eating vitamin D-rich foods just isn’t enough, and that is totally normal.

Other options include vitamin D supplements, cod liver oil (500IUs per teaspoon), Ultravoilet lamps, or even antidepressants are all viable treatments, but you should talk to your doctor about which is right for you if you think you might have SAD.

Nataliya works in Toronto and is obsessed with her dog, as you can see on her Instagram @nataliya.schafer. She is discovering the world of weightlifting after years of boring elliptical-only workouts. She loves to horseback ride and laughs at people who say it isn’t a workout because “the horse does everything.” She loves a good deal–even if it’s on something she doesn’t need.