Since this condition occurs mainly in older people, why should you be concerned about it during earlier years? Prevention of osteoporosis can begin in childhood, when bone mass is increasing. Diet, exercise,
smoking, and use of alcohol all affect bone formation throughout life. Preventive measures are also important when bone mass is decreasing, during midlife and just after
Calcium and Vitamin D
Good nutrition, especially an adequate supply of
calcium, plays an important part in maintaining bone mass.
is also needed to aid in calcium absorption.
Although you must work at it, it is possible to get adequate amounts of calcium from your diet. Dairy products are the best dietary sources of calcium. Other good sources include tofu, salmon (canned with edible bones), and blackstrap molasses.
If you cannot or do not regularly get enough calcium from your diet, you may need to take a calcium supplement. However, supplements should be used only to supplement the calcium in your diet, not replace it. There are several different calcium compounds on the market. They differ mainly in price and how easily they are absorbed. Be sure to discuss calcium supplementation with your doctor.
General recommendations are:
- 19-50—1,000 milligrams (mg)
- 51 and older—1,200 mg
- 19-50—1,000 mg
- 51-70—1,000 mg
- Over 70—1,200 mg
Vitamin D is also important.. Our usual source of vitamin D is sunlight. But, with so many of us spending abundant time indoors (and wisely using sunscreen when outdoors), few people get adequate sun exposure—especially during the wintertime.
Salmon and other types of fish (like mackeral and sardines) are good vitamin D sources. Also, adding vitamin D-fortified milk to your diet will help you meet your daily needs. The recommendations for most adults is to get 600-800 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day. If you want to check on your vitamin D status, talk to your doctor, who will be able to do a blood test.
Keep in mind that your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. Evidence supports reduced fracture risk in people who have the right amount of both.
is an important contributor to building and maintaining bone mass at all ages. It also increases the strength and coordination of muscles that support the bones.
Weight-bearing exercise, such as
walking, jogging, stair climbing, jumping rope, and dancing, is the best for your bones. Weight lifting has also been shown to help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. If you are unaccustomed to exercising, talk to your doctor
before you begin.
Other Lifestyle Factors
Smoking, and alcohol can contribute to bone loss. To reduce your risk, do not smoke or talk to your doctor about how to quit. Smoking is a serious risk factor for osteoporosis and should be avoided by anyone seeking to reduce the risk of bone thinning. You should also limit your use of alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. Moderation is one drink or less a day for women and two drinks or less a day for men. Being underweight can also increase your risk for osteoporosis. If you have concerns about your weight or any other risk factors, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.