Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Osteoporosis

Lifestyle changes play are an important part of care. By making certain changes, you may be able to slow bone loss and lower the chances of breaking a bone.

General Guidelines for Managing Osteoporosis

 

Eat a Healthful Diet

Good nutrition is vital for normal growth and development. Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D may be a reason osteoporosis starts and progresses.

Calcium

Calcium is the key mineral for reaching peak bone mass. It also helps to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Calcium intakes for adults should fall between 1,000 and 1,200 mg per day. This changes based on your age. Most children, teens, and adults don’t reach these levels.

There are ways to get more calcium. Eat foods such as low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, sardines, soy products, and collard greens. Many foods such as orange juice, breakfast bars, and cereals have calcium added. If you still aren’t getting enough, talk to your doctor or a dietitian.

High amounts of proteins, caffeine, and salt in your diet may lower calcium levels in some people. But this may not be as much of a problem in those who get enough of it.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for bone health. Vitamin D helps with taking in calcium. Your skin makes vitamin D when you spend time in the sun. How much sunlight you need depends on where you live, the time of day, and your skin color.

Older adults and people who don’t spend a lot of time in the sun may have a harder time getting vitamin D. Most babies and young children in the US have enough vitamin D because it’s added to milk. During the teen years, dairy intake tends to drop so it’s harder to get enough. This also reflects how much calcium is taken in by the body.

Experts advise a daily intake of between 600 and 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D.

 

Exercise Regularly

Peak bone mass is helped by regular physical activity. This is mainly true during the child or teen years. As you get older, it will help slow the drop in bone density.

Weight bearing and resistance exercises help the most. Walking, running, tennis, or hiking are all good for your bones. Strength training can help raise your bone density. This will keep your muscles strong. It will also lower your chances of having a fall.

 

Don't Smoke

Smokers have a higher risk of osteoporosis. Smoking and lower bone density are directly related.

 

Watch Alcohol and Caffeine Use

Alcohol impedes how vitamin D is used in the body. This can lower how much calcium is taken in. It also rids the body of magnesium at a higher rate. Also, heavy drinkers tend to not get enough nutrition. This would include calcium and vitamin D.

Heavy drinking also affects your hormone levels. For women, it can cause menstrual problems. For men, it lowers how much testosterone is made. This can result in reduced bone formation.

Alcohol upsets your balance and how well you walk. This may cause you to stumble, trip, or run into objects. It can also lead to a higher risk of broken bones.

The link between caffeine use and bone health is not as clear-cut. Studies on the effect of caffeine on the bones have yielded mixed results. Limit caffeine to 2 cups of coffee or less a day.

 

Prevent Falls

Steps to protect yourself against falls is important. Osteoporosis raises your chances of broken bones. Most falls happen in the home. To help protect yourself:

  • Floors—Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Reduce clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Don’t move furniture around.
  • Bathrooms—Put in grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower.
  • Lighting—Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well lit. Put a night light in your bathroom. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night.
  • Kitchen—Put in non-skid rubber mats near sink and stove. Clean spills right away.
  • Stairs—Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure.
  • Other precautions—Wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes. Ask your doctor whether any of your medicines might cause you to fall.

When to Contact Your Doctor

  • If you have fallen and you think you may have broken a bone or need help preventing more falls
  • If you need assistance developing a healthful diet or exercise program
  • If you need assistance quitting smoking or drinking
REFERENCES:

Calcium and vitamin D for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115372/Calcium-and-vitamin-D-for-treatment-and-prevention-of-osteoporosis. Updated May 24, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2018.

Get the facts on calcium and vitamin D. National Osteoporosis Foundation website. Available at: https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/get-the-facts-on-calcium-and-vitamin-d. Accessed June 25, 2018.

Massey LK. Is caffeine a risk factor for bone loss in the elderly? Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;74(5):569-570.

Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113815/Osteoporosis. Updated February 1, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2018.

Osteoporosis overview. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center website. Available at: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/overview. Updated February 2017. Accessed June 25, 2018.

What women need to know. National Osteoporosis Foundation website. Available at: https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/what-women-need-to-know. Accessed June 25, 2018.

10/6/06 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113815/Osteoporosis: Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Togerson DJ. Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(12):1256-1261.

3/12/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113815/Osteoporosis: Alekel DL, Van Loan MD, Koehler SJ, et al. The soy isoflavones for reducing bone loss (SIRBL) study: a 3-y randomized controlled trial in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(1):218-230.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcie L. Sidman, MD  Last Updated: 6/25/2018