How do you prevent Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is preventable! While the best way to prevent osteoporosis is to build strong bones while you are young (<30), it’s never too late to defend yourself against bone loss.
Certain factors increase the chance that you will get osteoporosis:
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Being female and advanced in age (postmenopausal)
- Having a small, thin body (<127 lbs)
- Being Asian or Caucasian
- Inactive lifestyle (not enough exercise)
- Smoking or heavy drinking
- Low dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D
- Low testosterone levels (for men)
- Abnormal menstrual periods due to having an eating disorder
- Having an early menopause (before age 48)
- Use of oral steroids over a long period (e.g. glucocorticoids generally prescribed to treat diseases such as asthma, arthritis, and lupus)
- Surgical removal of ovaries before menopause
Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis
Help yourself or your loved ones who are at risk by staying informed and make good lifestyle choices such as the ones listed below.
- Get enough Calcium – Bones are made out of calcium and having a deficiency in this important mineral will lead to bone loss. On average, adults 19-50 are recommended to get 1000 mg/day. After menopause, women who are not on hormone replacement therapy (taking estrogen) are recommended to get 1500 mg/day. While natural food sources such as dairy, dried beans, sardines, and broccoli are good sources of calcium, supplementation with calcium pills may be of benefit to you as well. Read more about calcium.
- Get enough vitamin D – Vitamin D is important as it helps the body absorb and use calcium. Adults aged 19-50 are recommended to get 200 IU of vitamin D per day. Adults 51 – 70 are recommended to get 400 IU of vitamin D per day. The easiest way to get Vitamin D is through exposure to natural sunlight. In general, 10-15 minutes of exposure to sunlight on exposed skin 3 times a week is enough. The exactly amount varies by individual. Vitamin D is also available through foods like milk and supplement pills. Other minerals and vitamins such as zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C are important in helping to build and maintain strong bones.
- Exercise – Performing load bearing exercises such as running, walking, and weight training helps slow down bone loss. Like a muscle, bones get stronger when trained and used. Regular exercise also has many other health benefits such as improving muscle strength and balance that will help you avoid injury.
- Stop Smoking & Drinking – Smoking damages bones and lowers estrogen levels. Alcohol directly inhibits the ability of your body to use the calcium. You should strongly consider curtailing or eliminating these habits to help prevent osteoporosis. Read more about smoking and osteoporosis.
- Medication – In certain circumstances, your doctor may recommend prescription medications to help prevent or treat your osteoporosis. See the next section below for more information. Read more about medications for osteoporosis.