Meredith Singer | HealthGreatness

Osteoporosis is a silent disease that causes bones to weaken and break more easily.  While there are a number of non-modifiable risk factors (things you can’t control) for osteoporosis, there are five simple steps you can take to help keep your bones strong.

  1. Make sure you get enough calcium each day.  Calcium is a mineral that is essential in building and maintaining strong, healthy bones.  It is found in various foods, such as dairy products, dark and leafy vegetables, almonds, tofu, salmon, as well as calcium-fortified juices and cereals.  Although food is the best source of calcium, supplements are available to make sure you are getting the recommended amounts.  Women 19-50 and men 19-70 need 1,000mg/day while women 51-70 need 1,200mg/day.  Everyone over the age of 70 should aim for 1,200mg/day (Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 2010).

  2. Vitamin D is important too!  Vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb calcium.  Your skin can make vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.  However, sunlight also raises skin cancer risk so it safer to get the necessary amounts from food or supplements.  Vitamin D is found in salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and is also often added to milk, juices, and cereals.  The daily-recommended amount of vitamin D is 600IU/day for adults 19-70 and 800IU/day for those 71 and older (Source: NIH Office on Dietary Supplements).
  3. Keep on moving.  Bone is like a muscle in that gets stronger with exercise.  Weight-bearing physical activity (where your body works against gravity) and muscle-strengthening exercises are best for slowing bone loss.  Some examples weight-bearing activities are walking, jogging, dancing, weight lifting, and yoga.
  4. Don’t light up.  There is growing evidence that smokers have less bone density than non-smokers.  Plus, if a fracture does occur, smokers tend to take longer to heal.
  5. Drink in moderation.  Alcohol makes it more difficult for your body to absorb the calcium you are taking in through both food and supplements and interferes with vitamin D production.  Heavy drinkers also have more frequent falls, which increase their risk of fractures.

By following the five simple steps above you can help keep your bones strong!