Osteoporosis causes bone to become so weak that even a mild stress can cause a fracture. About 1.5 million osteoporosis-related fractures occur annually in the United States. Of these, approximately 300,000 are of the hip, resulting in financial stress and reduced quality of life. Maintain your bone health by following these recommendations.
Drink up. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1300 mg of calcium for ages 9-18, 1000 mg for ages 19-50, 1000 mg for males age 51-70 and 1200 mg for females age 51-70. Read the nutrition facts to help you identify foods rich in calcium. The amount of calcium will be listed on the label as a percentage. You can multiply the percentage to figure out how many milligrams of calcium are in a food. For example, if the nutrition facts say “30% Calcium”, multiply 1000 by .30. One serving has 300 mg of calcium.
Note: If you are over 50, you should not exceed 2000 mg of calcium between the food you eat and any calcium supplements you take. Doing so increases your risk of heart problems and kidney stones.
Vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb calcium. The recommended daily intake is 600 IU (international units) for people under 70 and 800 IU for those over 70. It can be challenging to get enough vitamin D. We can get vitamin D from sunlight, which may not be as helpful for those of us living in the north. Naturally occurring sources of vitamin D are usually not consumed on a regular basis, such as cod liver oil, egg yolks and fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon. Foods fortified with vitamin D include: milk, margarine, some juices, yogurt and breakfast cereals.
Note: A combination of foods and a dietary supplement may be necessary to obtain the vitamin D you need each day. Discuss recommended supplementation with your doctor.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Regularly drinking more than two drinks a day can increase your risk of osteoporosis.
Exercise helps to build and maintain strong bones at any age but is especially beneficial if started at a young age and continued throughout life.
Maintain strong healthy bones by eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and getting plenty of exercise.