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The Health Centre

How Can I Keep My Bones Strong?

There are things you should do at any age to prevent weakened bones. Eating foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D is important. So is including regular weight-bearing exercise in your lifestyle. These are the best ways to keep your bones strong and healthy.

Calcium. Getting enough calcium all through your life helps to build and keep strong bones. People over age 50 need 1200 mg of calcium every day. Foods that are high in calcium are the best source. For example, eat low-fat dairy foods, canned fish with soft bones such as salmon, dark green leafy vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice, breads, and cereals.

If you think you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet, check with your doctor first. He or she may tell you to try a calcium supplement. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are two common forms. You have to be careful though. Too much calcium can cause problems for some people. On most days you should not get more than 2,500 mg of total calcium. That includes calcium from all sources—foods, drinks, and supplements.

Vitamin D. Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium. Most people’s bodies are able to make enough vitamin D if they are out in the sun for a total of 20 minutes every day. You can also get vitamin D from eggs, fatty fish, and cereal and milk fortified with vitamin D. If you think you are not getting enough vitamin D, check with your doctor. Each day you should have:

  • 400 IU (international unit) if you are age 51 to 70

  • 600 IU if you are over age 70.

As with calcium, be careful. More than 2000 IU of vitamin D each day may cause side effects.

Exercise. Your bones and muscles will be stronger if you are physically active. Weight-bearing exercises, done three to four times a week, are best for preventing osteoporosis. Walking, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing are examples of weight-bearing exercises. Try some strengthening and balance exercises, too. They may help you avoid falls which could cause a broken bone.

Medicines. Some common medicines can make bones weaker. These include a type of steroid drug called glucocorticoids used for arthritis and asthma, some antiseizure drugs, certain sleeping pills, treatments for endometriosis, and some cancer drugs. An overactive thyroid gland or using too much thyroid hormone for an underactive thyroid can also be a problem. If you are taking these medicines, talk to your doctor about what you can do to help protect your bones.

Lifestyle. Smoking increases loss of bone mass. For this and many other health reasons, stop smoking. Limit how much alcohol you drink. Too much alcohol can put you at risk for falling and breaking a bone.

Source: National Institute on Aging


Part 1: Osteoporosis - The Bone Thief

Part 2: Osteoporosis - How Can I Keep My Bones Strong?

Part 3: What Can I Do About My Osteoporosis?

Part 4: How Can I Keep From Falling?

Part 5: Men and Osteoporosis





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