COVID, quarantine and bone health
In the 21st century, life expectancy has been steadily climbing; a healthy individual with adequate care can expect to live over 80 years of age and centenarians who live above 100 are no longer exceptional.
If care isn’t taken to preserve skeletal (bone) health, one can outlive a working skeleton.
The four basic elements required to preserve bone strength and health are favorable genetics, daily weight bearing exercises, calcium and vitamin D.
Unfortunately, COVID has had negative effects on these basic elements.
With illness, social distancing, furloughs and mandatory gym closures, many individuals are turning to excessive TV watching, remaining indoors and using food delivery services.
Good nutritional sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, sardines, egg yolks and beef liver.
While animal sources may be richest in vitamin D, vegans and lactose deficient individuals can obtain it from mushrooms, vegetables and enriched foods such as cereal, orange juice, yogurt and cheeses.
Vitamin D assists with calcium absorption from your diet, depositing and maintaining this calcium in the skeleton.
The process of building skeletal mass and peak bone density is complete at about age 30 and thereafter is steadily lost.
For a child in the process of growing, or a teenager who is building skeletal mass, a year of home schooling, staying indoors, limited physical activity and poor nutrition could have negative effects which manifest decades later.
Recent studies report fewer complications and death in individuals with COVID who have adequate levels of vitamin D.
Some of the other adverse effects of the pandemic, such as weight gain, addictions and depression, are also believed to be better controlled with adequate levels of vitamin D.
A guideline for what is considered adequate intake and levels of calcium and vitamin D is the United States Bone and Joint Initiative.
As a much simpler guide, the equivalent of three glasses of enriched milk should suffice.
In addition, daily exercise such as walking, running or bicycling for at least 20 minutes, in the park with a friend, and with sun exposed arms, will do wonders for building bone strength, avoiding fractures later in life, and preserving emotional health.
To schedule an appointment, call one of our convenient locations or visit us online at www.lowerbuckshosp.com.
Lower Bucks Hospital, Bristol: (215) 785-9817.
Town Center Drive, Langhorne: (267) 789-2074.
PHOTO CAP: Dr. Menachem M. Meller, M.D., Ph.D., FAAOS, Orthopedic Surgeon