As we age, our bones can become more fragile and susceptible to injury. Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, affects an estimated 53 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
There are several things you can do to protect your bones and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Here are five tips for boosting your bone health:
1. Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is the primary mineral responsible for bone health, while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and canned fish with bones. You can get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, certain foods (such as fatty fish and fortified milk), and supplements. The recommended daily intake of calcium for adults over 50 is 1,200 milligrams. For vitamin D, the recommended daily intake is 600 IU (international units).
2. Exercise regularly. Weight-bearing exercises — such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, tennis, and dancing — can help strengthen bones and slow down bone loss. If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for the condition, your doctor may recommend exercises that put minimal stress on your bones, such as water aerobics or stationary biking.
3. Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures by reducing the amount of calcium stored in your bones and interfering with the bone-forming process.
4. Limit alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to bone loss and increase your risk of fracture. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation — up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
5. Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help keep your bones strong throughout your life. Be sure to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you’re concerned about getting enough nutrients for bone health — they can tailor recommendations to fit your needs.
By following these tips, you can help keep your bones healthy and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis or sustaining a bone fracture as you age. Remember to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about protecting your bones — they can provide additional guidance based on your individual situation.”