Some people lose a few inches in height as they age

Cheryl E Preston

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Shrinking bonesDr. Eri Berg Screenshot

People really do shrink but they don't have to

If you have noticed that someone who once towered over you, seems to be shorter, it's not your imagination. Numerous studies indicate that people really do lose height as they age. According to Harvard Medical School, adults begin losing bone density around the age of 40. There is also a thinning of the gel-like substance that separates each vertebra, which causes bones to dry out and become brittle. This spine deterioration is compounded by muscle loss is what causes some adults to seem hunched over. You may also have noticed adults who seem taller as they age which is why there should be no cause for alarm. There are steps you can take to ensure your bones are healthy and prevent unnecessary shrinkage in your height.

1. Stop smoking immediately

Smoking does not just damage the lungs, decrease oxygen levels, and increase the risk of respiratory illness and cancer, it can also play a part in the age-related decrease in height. The Office on Women's Health and the Department of Human Services recommends that those who smoke should completely quit. Cutting back is not an option as just one cigarette is too many. Smoking damages bones, and also lowers women's estrogen level. In addition to shrinking bones, smoking has been shown to cause Osteoporosis, which causes adults to slump over and have a hunchback appearance.

2. Drink in moderation

Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages has many negative side effects and affecting your skeletal system is one of them. According to the National Institute on Health, alcohol interferes with your body's ability to absorb calcium, but you don't have to abstain altogether. Drinking in moderation is the key and it is recommended that one drink a day should be sufficient. Any more than that puts you at risk of damage to your skeletal system and the possibility of increasing the rate at which your bones shrink.

3. Calcium and Vitamin D

Proper nutrition is a key component to keeping bones strong and healthy. Calcium and Vitamin D go hand in hand as a dynamic duo for optimum health. The Mayo Clinic recommends that men over age 50 need 1,000 milligrams each day of calcium, and after age 70 they should increase it to 1.200 milligrams. The National Institutes of Health says that women over age 50 need 1,200 milligrams of calcium on a daily basis to keep their bones healthy. Good sources of Calcium are kale, milk, almond, and sardines.

Vitamin D is important because it helps our bodies to absorb calcium. It is recommended that men and women obtain 600 IU of this vitamin every day, and females age 70 and older need 800 to 1000 IU daily. The National Institutes of Health says that high levels of vitamin D can be found in kale, almonds, salmon, broccoli, soy products, fortified milk, oily fish, and dairy. You can also get plenty of Vitamin D from enjoying the sunshine during the hours of 9:30-11:00 AM.

4. Exercise

The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Research Center released results of tests done in 1965, and again in 1995. It was conducted by Israeli researchers who measured the height of more than 2,000 men and women. Both times they found that exercise had an amazing effect. Test subjects who exercised as a lifelong habit as well as those who began at 40 years of age, had something in common.

Their height loss was about half as much the men and women who stopped working out when they reached middle age and those who said they never exercised at all. The study found that strength training or weight-bearing exercises such as jumping and running puts stress on bones, which sends a signal or your body to strengthen the bones and results in new cell growth. This should encourage aging adults who have been sedentary to get up and get moving.

5. Maintain good posture

Maintaining good posture goes a long way in keeping bones healthy. Make it a habit to look in mirror's or window glass as you pass by. If you catch yourself slouching, immediately straighten up. Standing and sitting straight actually strengthens the muscles that support the spine and other areas of the body. It also helps us to look taller and younger. Here are some pointers to remember.

Stand with your shoulders held back and make sure they are relaxed and not rigged. Pretend you are pulling your navel towards your lower back and gently tuck in your tummy. Balance your weight on both feet, allow your hands to naturally fall by your sides, and keep your knees to be flexible. When seated, be sure both feet are flat on the floor, keep your shoulders relaxed, and your back comfortable, yet straight. Hold your head up as if it is trying to reach the ceiling because this will lengthen your spine.

6. Bone density test

A bone density test is something to think about as we age. This examination is done by x-ray and determines the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones. The more nutrients that are detected, the better for your skeletal system. You may be doing everything right to keep your bones strong, but still, be at risk for bone problems because of a prescription drug you are taking. This is why it is important to know the possible side effects of any medications and discuss them with your healthcare provider. Certain drugs can deplete minerals, and even vitamin D which is necessary or bone health.

By heeding this information you may be able to prevent your bones from shrinking as you age.


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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA
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