Turning the clocks back this weekend may have meant one more hour of sleep, but for many, it means less exposure to sunlight.
"Sunlight is one of the ways that our body naturally makes vitamin D," said Dr. Caitlin Nicholson, a sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH.
Dr. Nicholson said Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. “Without Vitamin D, your body will break down bone, but not make new bone, and that can put you at risk for diseases like osteopenia or osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children," Dr. Nicholson said.
One National Institutes of Health study found half the world’s population is Vitamin D deficient, but there are ways to boost your bone health.
Dr. Nicholson recommends increasing your Vitamin D intake and also your calcium intake. Vitamin D supports and enhances the absorption of calcium, which is needed for healthy bones.
To increase your calcium intake, experts say you should eat calcium-rich foods including dairy products, almonds, broccoli and kale. To increase your Vitamin D intake, experts recommend adding foods including salmon, tuna, cheese and eggs to your diet.
Dr. Nicholson says supplements can also help but advises you to read the labels carefully.
"You're looking for a calcium supplement that's going to contain somewhere along the order of 600 milligrams of calcium, assuming that you get half of your normal calcium from your daily dietary intake of dairy products, fish, broccoli, kale and products like that," Dr. Nicholson said. "And you're looking for something that contains at least 400 international units of vitamin D, assuming that you're still getting some amount from dietary sources."
Another way to boost bone health is through weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, running or strength training.
Research suggests alcohol and tobacco contribute to weaker bones. Cutting back or stopping smoking and limiting alcohol to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men can help.