How to Get Strong Bones—Myths (And Facts) About Bone Health

How to Get Strong Bones—Myths (And Facts) About Bone Health

When you say “strength,” you often picture someone with well-defined muscles. Many think muscle mass is the only part that counts for physical strength. Or that bone density loss and related conditions are something only women need to worry about and only as they age. That couldn’t be more wrong.

Strong bones are the first step to a strong body. They support your muscles and joints and are essential for your well-being. How to get strong bones?

Some say calcium is key. Others will tell you to lift weights at the gym. Some will tell you strong or weak bones are about genetics, so there’s nothing you can do about it. Is any of this true? Let’s debunk some common myths and check the facts about bone health.

Myth 1. Strong bones require dairy

You’ve heard this idea at least once in your life. If you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply dislike dairy, you probably lost count of how many people told you that you need dairy.

Dairy products contain a lot of calcium. But you can get this amazing mineral from other sources, too. Tofu, edamame, bok choy, and even greens like broccoli and kale contain a lot of calcium.

We also can’t forget foods that come fortified with calcium. These include certain cereals, store-bought orange juice, and more. As a word of caution, though, these foods can be heavily processed, so read the label and be sure also to include plenty of fruits and veggies.

Spinach, rhubarb, and other greens contain calcium but are not optimal sources. That’s because they have high amounts of oxalic and phytic acid, which may slow down calcium absorption.

In short, with careful planning, you can get plenty of calcium from non-dairy foods. In case of a severe deficiency, talking to a doctor and supplementing will most likely be necessary.

Myth 2. Only women need to worry about osteoporosis

If you were hoping to be out of the woods because of your gender, think again. Women are indeed at a higher risk of osteoporosis.

But statistics show that about 20% of white men in America have osteoporosis at the moment. Once you have the disease, the risk of fractures is the same regardless of your gender.

Myth 3. Low bone density is only a problem for older adults

A common mistake people make is thinking bone density loss is only a problem after age 50. Your body builds about 90% of its bone mass by the time you’re 20. For most people, bone-building peaks between the ages of 25 and 30. After that, there’s a period of relative stability until you reach your 50s.

But if you pay no attention to your bones in this interval, bone loss may start sooner. Being proactive, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly can help keep your bones strong and prevent bone density loss.

Myth 4. Only weight training helps bone density

Weight training is the way to go if you want to build muscle, so it must be the logical option for bone health, right? Not exactly. Weight training can certainly help, but the fact is that all exercise is good for bone health.

From walking, dancing, swimming, and practicing yoga, all types of movements are great for your bones. The important is to stay active. Plus, balance and coordination exercises, like Pilates, tai chi, and yoga, can help reduce the risk of falls.

Of course, if you’re already dealing with a medical condition, you should consult your physician before starting a new exercise form.

Myth 5. Low bone density affects only thin people

Women are at higher risk for low bone density (osteopenia). Plus, conditions like anorexia, bulimia, or thyroid disorders increase the risk of osteopenia. Add these two truths together, and you get what has now become a very prevalent myth—that low bone density is only a concern for very thin people, usually females.

In reality, the correlation between body size and bone density isn’t as strong. Lower bone density because of a smaller body frame doesn’t mean weak bones.

A strong, healthy, petite person can have strong bones despite their small frame. Similarly, a larger but inactive person with various health conditions may struggle with weak bones and osteopenia despite their larger frame.

Myth 6. You can’t have strong bones without supplements

For many people, a truly balanced diet may seem more challenging to obtain. You’re running around every day, busy with work and other obligations, so there’s hardly any time to cook and pay attention to what’s on your plate. You go for the quickest, easiest options. And let’s face it. Those are often neither balanced nor healthy.

So, do you need supplements? Technically, no. You can get all your vitamins and minerals from foods. But certain things could make this difficult. Dietary restrictions, whether due to allergies or personal choices, can make it hard to get enough calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, or vitamin K.

An unbalanced diet filled with junk foods will also not provide you with all the nutrients you need. In these cases, you may benefit from using a supplement, such as a daily multivitamin. A doctor will help you get the right supplement and dose for your body for known, severe deficiencies.

Myth 7. Calcium supplements are dangerous

At the opposite spectrum from Myth 6, you’ll hear those that advise against all and any calcium supplements. This myth started after a 2006 Women’s Health Initiative study, where many women taking calcium supplements reported kidney stones at the end of the trial.

The problem? During that trial, participants took up to 2,100 mg of calcium daily. And that number only takes into account their supplements, not their diet. This is far above the recommended daily amount of 1,000-1,200 mg. Calcium supplements are safe when taken correctly without preexisting medical conditions, and especially if a deficiency is present.

So…how to get strong bones?

We’ve debunked the most common myths. Now, let’s take a look at the things you can do to improve your bone health.

  • Get enough vitamin D. It is essential for calcium absorption and helps you get stronger bones. You can get it from sunlight exposure or foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, or fortified milk.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol. A glass of wine here and there won’t do any harm. But in excess, alcohol may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Quit smoking. If you need another reason to stop smoking, we’ve got one right here. Smoking has been linked to lower bone density, so do your best to ditch this habit.
  • Move your body. Any type of exercise is good for you, so take advantage of this fun and easy way to improve bone strength. Take a walk to admire nature, dance with your friends, or lift some weights at the gym.
  • Eat a balanced diet. You’re probably tired of hearing this, but a balanced diet can be a medicine in disguise. Prioritize fruits, veggies, fatty fish, and even whole grains.

The bottom line

Bone strength and health are not some mystical, impossible-to-achieve goals. Gender doesn’t play as critical a role as you may have thought, and neither does your weight. As with anything, balance is key, and the same is true for a lifestyle that supports your bones.

We can’t help you eat healthier or exercise more (though we wish we did). We can offer instead some great supplements that will help keep your bones strong and healthy, even when you can’t have the most balanced lifestyle. Check out our shop and start improving your bone health today.

Health/Medical Disclaimer

This blog post does not provide health or medical advice. This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health or medical advice. Before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate medical and healthcare professionals. We do not provide any kind of health or medical advice. The use or reliance of any information contained on this blog is solely at your own risk.


5th Feb 2024 Written by Laura Vegh. Edited by Brandee Nichols, retired Registered Nurse.

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