Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become weak and brittle and break more easily. According to the surgeon general, half of all Americans over age 50 will have weak bones by 2020, unless we take preventative measures. Osteoporosis is serious — especially for the elderly — and costly. May is National Osteoporosis Prevention Month, so it’s as good a time as any to make the following changes to your diet and lifestyle in order to help keep your bones healthy.
- Get adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Adults under age 50 and men up until age 71 need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium. Women age 51 to 70 and all adults age 71 and older need 1,200 mg. It is best to get calcium from food. Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources. The recommended amount of vitamin D for adults until age 71 is 600 International Units (IU). Those who are age 71 and older need 800 IU. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, so it is important to get enough from food, sunlight or supplements.
- Be physically active. Try to do at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise, like jogging, hiking or fast walking, most days of the week. Strength training, like weight lifting, should be done two to three days a week. These two types of exercise put stress on the bones, which helps make them stronger.
- Maintain a healthy weight. People who are underweight are more likely to suffer from bone loss and fractures.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can weaken bones and increase risk of breakage.
- Limit alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol consumption decreases bone mass and raises the risk for broken bones.
- Talk with your doctor about medications. Some medicines, like those for thyroid issues and arthritis, may contribute to osteoporosis, so be sure to discuss how to keep bones healthy while using them.