What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mass. This means bones become thin and weak. Bones can easily break from a minor fall. Osteoporosis can also lead to other health problems. Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, you can take steps to prevent or stop its progress.
What can I do to prevent osteoporosis?
Calcium and vitamin D are vital to building strong, dense bones when you are young. These also help keep your bones strong and healthy as you age. You can take these steps to prevent weak bones:
Eat calcium-rich foods
Your body does not produce calcium. It must be absorbed through food. A calcium-rich diet includes 1200 mg of calcium each day. Dairy foods, such as low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese are high in calcium. Some dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and bok choy, have calcium. Some juices, breakfast foods, soymilk and cereal have calcium that has been added. Read the food label to check for added calcium in these foods. One glass of low-fat milk (8oz), 1 cup of non-fat yogurt and 1-½ ounces of cheese will give you all the calcium you need each day.
Get vitamin D
Your body uses vitamin D to take in calcium. Try to spend at least 15 minutes every day in the sun. This may help your body make enough vitamin D for each day. You can also get vitamin D from fatty fish, some cereal, milk and orange juice fortified with vitamin D and vitamin supplements.
Take extra calcium
It is very difficult to get all the vitamin D you need from food alone. Check with your doctor if you think you need to take a supplement to get enough calcium. Too much calcium can increase your chance of developing kidney problems.
Walking, stair climbing, jogging, playing tennis and dancing are all weight-bearing exercises. Exercise this way three to four times each week. Exercise may also help you avoid falls and decrease your chances of breaking a bone.
Smoking causes your body to make less estrogen, which protects the bones. If you smoke, ask your doctor how to help you quit.
Limit alcohol, soda and caffeine
Alcohol and soda keep the body from making new bone. Alcohol can also put you at risk for falling and breaking a bone. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Caffeine can damage your bones. Limit coffee, tea and soda to one to two drinks each day.