Osteoporosis causes a weakening of the bones and may lead to fractures, loss of height, pain and stooped posture. The condition affects more women than men, according to the Mayo Clinic, but both genders are at risk. Because there is no cure for osteoporosis, and treatments for the condition are not always effective, prevention of the disease is crucial. Building strong bones during childhood and early adulthood is the best way to prevent osteoporosis and ensure continued mobility and independence, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).
Eat foods rich in calcium. Increase your intake of calcium by eating a variety of low-fat dairy products, fortified foods, soy products and green leafy vegetables. The NOF states that most adults under the age of 50 require 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Adults over the age of 50 need even more calcium, at about 1,200 mg per day. Take a daily calcium supplement when dietary sources are inadequate due to a restricted diet or other reasons.
Watch your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is necessary for proper calcium absorption in the body. Most people obtain sufficient vitamin D through sun exposure, but people who spend a great amount of time indoors are at risk for deficiency. Dietary sources of the vitamin include egg yolks, fortified milk and liver. The NOF recommends that adults under the age of 50 years take in 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D each day, and adults 50 and over take in at least 800 IU daily. Supplementation with vitamin D3 can help you meet the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.
Exercise. Engage in weight-bearing exercise at least two to three times per week. The Mayo Clinic states that exercise is important for building bone strength and slowing bone loss. Walking, jogging, stair-climbing and skiing are good weight-bearing exercises for people of all ages. Exercise is especially important during childhood and adolescence. The NOF states that children who exercise regularly are more likely to achieve peak bone mass than inactive children.
Stop smoking and limit your intake of alcohol to prevent bone loss and improve calcium absorption. Smoking may increase bone loss by altering estrogen levels in females, and consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day can significantly impair the body’s ability to absorb and use calcium.
Visit your doctor for a bone density test to detect early bone loss. The Mayo Clinic states that a simple, accurate test called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, can measure bone density and track it over time. While there is no cure for osteoporosis, treatments are available to stop or slow bone loss. The earlier you begin treatment, the better your chance at regaining lost bone and preventing fractures and other complications.
Tips and Warnings
- Osteoporosis causes more than 1.5 million fractures every year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
About this Author
Sandra Ketcham is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience writing for both print and online publications. She specializes in health and wellness, business and travel articles and currently serves as an editor for various e-zines and company newsletters. Ketcham is currently pursuing a degree in psychology.