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Kingsbridge Talks : Bone Health

27th, Feb 2023

Bone diseases such as Osteoporosis affect nearly 200 million women worldwide. Men also get the disease, but postmenopausal women are most at risk.

Making simple lifestyle changes can help to improve bone health and decrease your likelihood of developing osteoporosis or other bone problems, so we have gathered some helpful ways in which you can improve your bone health including some advice from our specialists Dr Lisa Neligan, Private GP, Conan Brogan, Physiotherapist and Mr Gavin Heyes, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. Check them out below.


  1. Boost your calcium intake

For adults aged 19 to 50 and men aged 51 to 70, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women 51 and older and for men aged 71 and older. Adding calcium to your diet can help to strengthen bones. You can do this by increasing intake of yogurt, milk, cheese or non-dairy products such as leafy green vegetables, soy milk and oranges which are also great sources of calcium.  


  1. Increase your vitamin D intake

Vitamin D works in conjunction with calcium, helping your body absorb the calcium it needs. Your body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, however people in northern climates such as Northern Ireland may not be producing enough!

“Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as salmon, trout, whitefish and tuna, mushrooms, eggs, milk and cereals.” - Mr Gavin Heyes, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

“Having enough exposure to sunlight is essential for vitamin D formation. This is approximately 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure at midday, 2-3 times a week in the summer.” -Dr Lisa Neligan, Private GP


  1. Perform weight bearing activities

People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of Osteoporosis, therefore performing weight-bearing activities can help to keep bones strong and healthy. Lifting weights or simply staying active through everyday activities can improve bone health. Conan Brogan, Sports & Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist says:

“To increase bone density, the bone tissue must be exposed to a mechanical load that exceeds normal daily activities. A recent consensus study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine identified three main areas to reduce the effects of osteoporosis (Brooke-Wavell et al. 2022). These included impact-based exercises such as brisk walking or jogging, balance and strength-based exercises such as squats and deadlifts and spinal extension exercises to improve posture and reduce the risk of falls. These 3 areas can be covered with a comprehensive exercise-based program. 

It is well accepted that resistance-based exercise and weight bearing activity such as walking or jogging are two exceptional ways to increase bone health. This is due to the mechanical properties of bone and how they respond to load. It is recommended that at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day should be carried out to ensure a healthy bone state (NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases). Walking and jogging are effective activities which can be completed daily to expose the bone tissues to demands which exceed normal daily activities.  

Resistance training performed twice weekly can have an exceptional effect on bone density and health (El-Kotob 2020). Exercises such as deadlifts, squats, pull ups, press ups, and plyometrics are all suitable to achieve this adaptation. It has been advised that 8-12 repetitions of a weight which is rated as a 7/10 difficulty to lift, is an optimal strategy to increase bone density (Brooke-Wavell 2022). Concurrently, resistance-based training also has beneficial effects on muscular health and assists in the prevention of the adverse effects which sarcopenia may have in ageing adults.


  1. Keep alcohol consumption within moderate levels and quit smoking

Drinking too much alcohol can make your bones weaker so it is recommended that women have no more than 1 drink per day, while men should limit themselves to 2 drinks per day to help avoid this. Smoking is also a major factor in the decrease of bow density as it reduces the blood supply to the bones and to many other body tissues.

“Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, regularly having more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or two a day for men may increase the risk of osteoporosis.” - Mr Gavin Heyes, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

“Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol use is one of the best things you can do to keep your bones healthy. 14 Units of alcohol per week is the maximum recommended intake for both men and women. You can work out how many units there are in a drink by multiplying the ABV% by the total volume in mls and dividing this figure by 1000.” -Dr Lisa Neligan, Private GP


Remember, it’s never too late or early to start thinking about our bones.

At Kingsbridge Private Hospital, our Private GPs, Physiotherapists and Orthopaedic Consultants are available to help at any stage. If you have any concerns about your bone health and would like to book an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact our private patient booking team via our online enquiry form.

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