Osteoporosis | Prevention

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How do I prevent osteoporosis?

To help keep your bones healthy as you age, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D, and exercise regularly.

Calcium
To help prevent osteoporosis, women 50 years of age and younger and men 70 years of age and younger should get 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Women older than 50 years of age and men older than 70 years of age should get 1,200 mg of calcium per day.

It’s usually best to try to get calcium from food. Nonfat and low-fat dairy products are good sources of calcium. Other sources of calcium include dried beans, pink salmon, spinach and broccoli.

If you don’t get enough calcium from the food you eat, your doctor may suggest taking a calcium supplement. Take it with meals or with a sip of milk.

Vitamin D
You can get vitamin D from sunlight, food, or supplements. Your skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. However, many people don’t get enough vitamin D due to geographic location, sunscreen use, or fears of skin cancer from sun exposure. Your doctor can test your blood to measure your vitamin D level. If your vitamin D level is low, your doctor may recommend that you take a vitamin D supplement.

Exercise
Exercise helps you build strong bones. To help prevent osteoporosis, start exercising when you’re young and to continue exercising throughout your life. Even if you’re older, it’s never too late to start exercising. Ask your doctor for tips on how to start exercising safely.

The best exercise to help prevent osteoporosis is a combination of strength training and weight-bearing exercise. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include walking, jogging and climbing steps.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 01/96

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