Secret Killer Most Men Don’t Think About But Should
If the word “osteoporosis” comes up in conversation, most men say, “Osteo-what? Isn’t that just a woman thing?” But don’t make that mistake. What most men don’t know about bone health could kill them. Read on and learn what steps you can take now to keep yourself healthy for life.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak. Although it is true that osteoporosis affects women more than men, it affects more men than you may think. In fact, 1 in 5 people with osteoporosis is a man. So men also need to take care to protect bone health. And the sooner you start, the better.
Osteoporosis is more than just an inconvenience. In fact, it is often lethal. What most people don’t realize is that osteoporosis-related injuries can cause blood clotting that can kill. Take care of yourself using the simple steps that follow.
The Calcium Connection
When most of us think of bone health, calcium is the first thing that comes to mind. And for good reason. Calcium is the main mineral in bones. And osteoporosis occurs with calcium has been removed from the bones, leaving them weak and brittle.
So calcium is an important nutrient for bone health. And studies show that those who avoid dairy are generally at highest risk of calcium deficiency. While other foods can provide calcium, dairy is by far the best source. Unless you have very good reason to avoid dairy, including small amounts in your diet can help you to keep your calcium intake adequate.
But, of course, dairy is not the only source of calcium. Green vegetables are also an excellent source. They should be cooked to make the nutrients absorbable.
Bone-in fish such as sardines are also an excellent source of calcium. As are the bones from other animals. Bone broth, which is a traditional type of soup stock made by simmering bones in water for a long time can also provide a good source of calcium.
Be careful about many other foods touted as good sources of calcium. For example, many organizations list soy as a good source. But soy is a potentially dangerous food for men because it can disrupt hormonal health. So stick with dairy, vegetables, and foods made from bones.
Don’t rely on calcium from supplements or from fortified foods if possible. That’s because many of these types of calcium are poorly absorbed or may be contaminated with heavy metals. Although supplemental calcium is better than none, getting calcium from food is best.
However, although calcium is important, it’s not the only nutrient that is important. And the over-emphasis on calcium alone may do more harm than good if its not balanced with other nutrients.
Putting Calcium Where It Belongs
Although calcium is important for bone health, if it doesn’t get into the bones, it can be a big problem. For one thing, if the calcium doesn’t get into the bones the bones will be weak. For another thing, all that calcium can get into the tissues or blood and end up causing health problems. And that is one of the dangers that can happen particularly with calcium supplements.
Some other nutrients are necessary to help calcium go where it is needed, which is the bones and teeth. Those nutrients are vitamin K, vitamin D, the mineral boron, and the mineral magnesium. Let’s look at the best ways to obtain these nutrients.
Vitamin K is found in several forms. The best form is one that is found in butter, so be sure to include some butter in your diet on a regular basis. Other good sources of forms of vitamin K are green leafy vegetables and cheese.
Vitamin D is naturally formed on the skin when exposed to sunlight. If you regularly get out in the sun and expose your skin, you may make enough vitamin D. However, most people don’t. So eating oily fish is a good way to ensure you are getting some vitamin D. Few other foods are good sources, but butter and egg yolks provide some. If you get some sun, eat oily fish frequently, and otherwise include some butter and whole eggs in your diet, you’ll likely be getting enough vitamin D.
Boron is a mineral found in very small amounts in foods. The best sources are fruits, which gives you another reason to eat plenty of fruits regularly. Apples, bananas, cherries, peaches, grapes, and particularly dates are among the best sources.
Finally, magnesium is another nutrient that is needed for bone health and to keep calcium in the right places. Unfortunately, magnesium levels in food seem to have dropped in recent decades, likely due to modern farming practices. The best dietary sources are leafy green vegetables, oily fish, avocado, and banana. If you eat these foods regularly, you may be getting enough magnesium. Otherwise, a small amount of supplemental magnesium may be a good idea. But stick with well-absorbed forms such as magnesium citrate, malate, or glycinate.
Adequate levels of quality protein are also important for bone health. This is a factor that is often overlooked, but it is often crucial. Bones are composed primarily of protein structure that holds minerals like calcium in place.
Men who eliminate or greatly reduce all meat, eggs, and dairy from their diets can be at risk for protein deficiency. While protein deficiency is uncommon in the United States, those who follow a vegan diet are at risk. Vegans are also at the highest risk for osteoporosis. So be very careful to ensure that you eat enough quality protein.
While most Americans are not deficient in protein, the quality of the protein isn’t always ideal. People who eat a lot of meat without eating gelatinous cuts such as oxtail may be at a disadvantage. That’s because bones are made primarily of collagen, which is essentially the same as gelatin. Consider eating more gelatinous cuts or eating gelatin (i.e. Knox or Jello unflavored gelatin) regularly.
A lack of the right types of exercise or too much of the wrong types of exercise can harm bone health. But regular exercise of the right types can help.
The best types of exercise for bone health are walking, squatting, and resistance exercise. Studies have shown that in cultures where squatting is a regularly part of life, bone density is much higher than in places like the United States where squatting is not a regularly part of life. A few unweighted, full squats per day can improve bone health.
Walking for 30 minutes a day is shown to improve all kinds of areas of health, including bone health.
And weighted exercise such as weight lifting are also shown to increase bone strength.
However, over-exercise can harm bone health. Long distance running, cycling, or exercising too frequently can backfire. So keep it gentle and sustainable and safe. Walk a little bit more. Squat more often. And consider adding a short weight training routine into your week once or twice. But also be sure to get plenty of sleep and rest.
Protecting your bone health is well worth doing. Start now by making simple and enjoyable changes to your diet and lifestyle. In this article I’ve given you a lot of information, but I can summarize it for you here. Regularly include milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy green vegetables, oily fish, butter, and a variety of fruit in your diet. Also get outside in the sun and do some of the beneficial types of exercise. Be sure also to give yourself plenty of rest and sleep.
Do those things, and you can be confident that you’ll enjoy strong and healthy bone health for the rest of your long life.