Your skeleton is the frame upon which your body depends for support. It is more than a simple structure. Its bones conceal and protect vital organs. Without the bones to provide shape and support, you are as formless as the Blob. A joint is the place where two or more bones meet. Joints provide flexibility to the skeletal structure. They allow smooth movement, bending and elasticity. Without joints, you would be like the Tin Man.

Keeping healthy bones and joints is essential. If you do not take care of their health, you may feel the effects grow worse over the years. What, then, is the answer to keeping your bones and joints healthy? There are a number of ways of maintaining a healthy skeletal and joint system. Doctors stress various factors in your day-to-day life. They analyze your individual problems, genetic background and current life choices. They then focus on two distinct fields: diet and lifestyle. Within these two areas are five specific ways to maintain healthy bones and joints.

Diet

You are, so the saying goes, what you eat. There are certain foods connected with healthy bones and joints. Milk, milk alternatives, milk products and green vegetables are among the list of “musts.” The reason is simple. They all contain high levels of calcium. Calcium is necessary for providing and maintaining healthy bones and joints.

Calcium is one of the essential ingredients behind the growth of healthy bones. It is aptly called the backbone of your skeleton. About 99 per cent of your calcium resides in your bones. It is stored there. When your body requires more calcium and you are absorbing insufficient amounts, your body withdraws it from your bones.

Other substances you need to consider are Magnesium (About 70 percent of it is in your bones.), Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C. These are also essential to ensuring healthy bones. Vitamin C helps nourish healthy joints and bones. Calcium, magnesium, and other mineral and vitamin deficiencies can be corrected by diet and/or the addition of various supplements. Keep in mind, however, that the specific requirements change with age.

Rule number one, therefore, is to ensure your body obtains and maintains the correct amount of calcium and other bone-friendly vitamins and minerals. The best way to accomplish this is to follow the government food guides. These handbooks list the correct amount of the various food groups required to remain healthy. Be sure to include lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk and their alternatives e.g. tofu, cheese, yogurt.

Realize, however, many minerals, vitamins and other necessary bone and joint strengtheners and builders cannot work on their own. They require something to increase their absorption into the body. Vitamin D is one of the better known. It helps the gut absorb calcium. It is available naturally but you can also take it in supplement form.

Rule number two, therefore, is to include Vitamin D and other enablers as part of your diet. Vitamin D is less common naturally than vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, eel, shiitake mushrooms and eggs. Other foods such as cereal and milk are fortified with vitamin D. It, too, is available in supplement form.