How can I prevent osteoporosis?
After the age of about 30, bone thinning is a natural process and cannot be stopped completely. Whether you develop osteoporosis depends on the thickness of your bones early in life, as well as your health, diet, and physical activity later in life. The thicker your bones, the less likely the bones are to become thin enough to break. Young women in particular need to be aware of their risk for developing osteoporosis and take steps early to slow its progress and prevent complications. Plentiful physical activity during the preteen and teen years increases bone mass and greatly reduce the risk of osteoporosis in adulthood. If you eat a diet adequate in calcium and vitamin D and exercise regularly early in life and then continue with these healthy habits, you may be able to delay or avoid osteoporosis.
• Eat a nutritious diet that includes adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Both are necessary for building healthy, strong bones. The recommended daily calcium intake for adults age 19 to 50 is 1,000 mg per day. Men and women age 50 and older need 1,200 mg of calcium each day. The recommended daily intake for vitamin D is 5 ug (200 IU) for adults age 19 to 50, 10 ug (400 IU) for adults age 51 to 70, and 15 ug (600 IU) for adults age 71 and older. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption in bones and to improve muscle strength. It may reduce an older person's risk of falling by 22%. 11 If you are not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, take supplements.
• Get regular exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, or lifting weights, keep bones healthy by working the muscles and bones against gravity.
• Don't smoke. Smoking puts you at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis and increases the rate of bone thinning once it starts.
Once osteoporosis develops, getting enough calcium and vitamin D, along with other healthy habits, can slow the process and reduce the chances of bones breaking. It's common for a person's diet to supply only half the calcium the bones need, so you probably need to take supplements. Studies show that taking calcium plus vitamin D significantly reduces hip fractures and other fractures in women who have gone through menopause. Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption in bones and to improve muscle strength. It may reduce an older person's risk of falling by 22%.