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