healthy bones

Believe it or not, half of American women and one eighth of American men will have a fracture (broken bone) due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. Loss of bone strength slowly occurs with age, but many factors can speed it up, such as menopause in women. Osteoporosis occurs when a bone becomes so weak that it breaks with relatively minor injury. Fractures can be painful and even debilitating, especially in areas like the spine and hip. Previously active seniors can require nursing home care as a result of osteoporosis. The good news is osteoporosis is preventable and treatable. Here are the top five ways to protect your bones. 

Get just enough calcium

Calcium is the building block of bones. The best source for calcium is your diet. Milk, yogurt and cheese are the most calcium-rich foods, but you can also get calcium in soy milk, fortified orange juice and vegetables such as broccoli and kale. A postmenopausal woman needs 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. Younger women and men need 1,000 milligrams a day. If it is difficult for you to eat enough foods with calcium, then consider a supplement. But remember, more is not better. A recent study suggested that calcium supplements may increase heart disease risk, so the current recommendations are to try to get your calcium in your diet, and only supplement if you are not getting enough. 

Consider a vitamin D supplement

Vitamin D is also critical for bone health. Without it, you will not absorb the calcium that you eat. Most of our vitamin D is made in the skin when we are exposed to the sun, and minimal amounts are in foods. As a result, it is not uncommon to be vitamin D deficient. Unlike with calcium, the best solution is to use a supplement. Adult women up to 71 years old are recommended to take 600 IU daily and older women 800 IU daily of vitamin D3, according to the Institute of Medicine. 


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