More than 6 million Americans break a bone every year. While most people associate broken bones with car accidents or sports like snowboarding, even a simple fall can cause a fracture. Fractures are more likely to happen in older people, in part because bone health gets worse as people age. The risk of breaking a bone isn’t the only concern either. Poor bone health can lead to posture problems, pain, immobility, and more.
A solid thing that anyone can do is to start taking care of their bone health as soon as possible. This guide goes over how to do just that. The sooner you start looking after your bones, the stronger your body’s foundation will be.
No Bones About It: The Building Blocks of a Strong Skeleton
Bone tissue is formed out of protein, collagen, and minerals like calcium, which means they are incredibly hard and dense; they don’t tear as easily as soft tissue does. Instead, they fracture. Fractures happen as a result of sheer force, or they can occur over time as a bone is subjected to continued impact.
Most bone formation happens during childhood and adolescence when the body is growing, and when an individual enters adulthood, bone formation slows down. Over time, with age, the breakdown of bone tissue continues or even accelerates, leading to bone loss. This is why older individuals heal more slowly and may not recover as well from fractures.
The Endocannabinoid System and Bones
“The endocannabinoid system is an important regulatory system related to the function of brain, endocrine, and immune tissues. It appears to play a very important role in the secretion of hormones related to reproductive functions and response to stress.”
Recent research shows that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may be involved in bone formation. Generally speaking, like bone formation, the ECS is more active in younger people than older people, which is why scientists have been intrigued about this process and what it could mean for aging. This helps explain why younger people have a better rate of recovery from fractures and other bone-related conditions.
Endocannabinoids and Cannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are produced naturally in the human body and have a structure similar to cannabinoids, the chemicals found in cannabis and hemp. Currently, researchers are exploring what happens when the ECS is supplemented with cannabis. One study looked at interactions between the cannabinoids CBD, THC, and bone fractures. In the study, two groups of rats were given either CBD or CBD and THC, then monitored. The CBD-only group healed faster. They were also less likely to suffer a future break in the same area because the repaired bone was stronger.
There’s also some suggestion cannabinoids like CBD promote bone formation more generally. This is good news for America’s increasingly gray population. When bone loss outpaces formation, disorders like osteopenia and osteoporosis are the result. Since CBD promotes bone formation, it could slow down or even prevent these conditions.
How to Protect Bone Health
Taking CBD isn’t the only thing people can do to protect their bone health. In fact, it’s just one of the many aspects of a skeleton-friendly lifestyle.
The Bone Builder’s Diet – Calcium
As with any tissue in the body, nutrients provide the building blocks for healthy bones. As bones are primarily made of calcium, a diet rich in calcium greatly promotes bone health. Dairy products are the first choice for many people, but if you’re not eating dairy, then try:
- Sardines — 7 sardines fillets carry about 321 mg (32% DV) of Calcium!
- Many green, leafy vegetables, like kale and collard greens, are also great sources.
- Vitamin K — This vitamin is found in dark green leafy vegetables like kale and helps bone density.
- Vitamin D — Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium. Fish like salmon and tuna are good sources. Some foods are fortified with Vitamin D, and supplements are also available.
- Vitamin C — Helps with collagen, another component of bones. It also prevents scurvy, which can lead to bone pain. Get this bone-supporting vitamin from strawberries, red peppers or brussels sprouts.
- Potassium—This mineral could help bones by promoting acid balance and preventing bone loss. Grab a banana for a snack or sip on some orange juice to meet the daily minimum.
- Magnesium—This mineral also plays a role in keeping bones healthy. Find it in okra, collard greens, and potatoes.
Other Key Nutrients and Supplements
- Protein is an important part of bones, and thus it’s an important part of bone-building. The same is true of collagen. Animal products are a key source of collagen. For some people, such as vegans, a collagen supplement could be a good idea.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids also appear to play a role in bone health. Olive oil, soy, and other foods rich in omega-3s do much more than support bone health. They should be a key part of any diet.
- Berberine is another excellent supplement to consider. This plant-derived alkaloid has major effects on many body systems and organs. The best-known example is its ability to lower blood sugar levels. Some research suggests it could slow down bone loss and increase bone formation.
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a commonly found antioxidant that can help protect against bone loss and osteoporosis as well. One study suggested it could even increase bone formation.
No Lazy Bones Here
Exercise is another key aspect of a bone-healthy lifestyle. While most people know exercise strengthens muscles, there’s good evidence it also contributes to bone density. As a result, a regular exercise regime can help bones stay strong.
Weight-bearing exercises like walking and dancing can improve bone health. Resistance training, like lifting weights, can also help.
- Go for a short walk, at lunch or after dinner
- Lift weights at the gym or take a kettlebell class
- Hike, jog or play tennis with a friend on the weekend
Exercise can help people manage their weight as well. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is key for bone health. People who are underweight often have weaker bones. People who are overweight may be at greater risk of fractures due to excess stress on the skeleton. Rapid weight loss and gain appear to have a detrimental effect on bone health as well.
CBD for Protecting Bone Health
Hemp-derived CBD products have plenty of benefits. Protecting bone health is just one of them.
After a tough workout or to ease pain, try this highly concentrated CBD balm. The full-spectrum formula offers all the goodness of the hemp plant, combined with arnica and essential oils like clary sage.
CBD oil is an easy way to add CBD to a daily health routine. This highly concentrated oil packs a punch. Peppermint and ginger increase the bioavailability of CBD, as well as providing their own health-enhancing effects.
THC can provide pain relief and other health benefits to complement CBD’s bone-building efforts.
For those who like to vape, this CBD-rich cartridge is a great choice. CBD delivers bone-building, while THC will ease pain, insomnia and other symptoms.
This Sativa cross between Super Silver Haze and Sour Diesel is perfect for anyone who wants to combat pain or stress.
(Don’t) Break a Leg
Making simple changes can enhance bone health, and cannabis could help. Some people may be concerned about developing osteoporosis, while others may want to consult after a sports injury. Getting great advice is easy when doctors are available late. Talk to a medical marijuana doctor and create a plan for lifelong bone health.