Since it’s National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, we thought we’d do our part to start a conversation about bone health--and dispel a few myths about osteoporosis.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the key to preventing osteoporosis and maintaining your independence as you get older is taking these five steps—and the sooner you start, the better:
1. Know Your Family History: Speak with your parents and grandparents about your family history of osteoporosis and share this information with your doctor.
2. Know Other Risk Factors: Take steps to eliminate avoidable risk factors and/or reduce their impact.
- Being female
- Infrequent menstrual periods/low estrogen levels
- Low body weight
- Poor nutrition
- Inadequate exercise
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- Certain medications and medical conditions can affect bone density. Speak with your doctor about ways to minimize these risks.
3. Get Enough Bone-Building Nutrients: While calcium is considered the primary constituent of healthy bones, many other nutrients like vitamin D and magnesium are necessary to promote calcium absorption and utilization. Other trace minerals and vitamins also play a role in healthy bones.
Be sure you eat a balanced diet which includes five servings of fruits and vegetables every day and at least five ounces of lean protein daily.
Daily Calcium and Vitamin D Recommendations
- Under age 50 need a total of 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium* and 400-800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D every day.
- Age 50 and older need a total of 1,200 mg of calcium* and 800-1,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D every day.
- Under age 50 need a total of 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium* and 400-800 IUs of vitamin D every day.
- Age 50-70 need a total of 1,000 mg of calcium* and 800-1,000 IUs of vitamin D every day.
- Age 71 and older need a total of 1,200 mg of calcium* and 800-1,000 IUs of vitamin D every day.
*This includes the total amount of calcium you get from both food and supplements.
4. Get Enough Exercise : Just as your muscles get bigger and stronger when you use them, bones get stronger and denser when you make them work. And “work” for bones means handling impact, the weight of your body or more resistance such as lifting weights.
To help build or maintain bone mass, weight-bearing exercises (walking, elliptical machine, dancing) should be done for a total of 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Aim for 30 minutes at one time or break it up during the day. For example, 3 sessions for 10 minutes each will provide the same benefits to your bones as one 30-minute session.
- If you can’t fit 10 minutes in, spread your impact exercises throughout your day by taking the stairs or by parking farther from the store or work.
Muscle-strengthening exercises (lifting weights or using resistance bands) should be done two to three days per week.
- Try to do one exercise for each major muscle group for a total of 8-12 different exercises.
- Try to do one or two sets of 8 to 10 repetitions for each exercise. For example, if you lift a weight 10 times in a row and then stop, you have completed one set of 10 repetitions. You should also rest for about 30 seconds to one minute between each set.
- If you can’t do 8 repetitions in a row, the weight is too heavy or resistance is too much.
- If you can do more than 10 repetitions in a row, you may want to increase the weight or resistance.
- If you have osteoporosis or are frail, you may want to do 10 to 15 repetitions of a lighter weight to prevent injury.
5. Get Tested : If you are a woman who has reached menopause or a man age 50-55, speak with your doctor about when you should have your first bone density test. Depending on your individual health history and other risk factors, you may have this test as early as age 50 or as late as age 70.
I don’t have to worry about osteoporosis, I feel fine. You can’t feel your bones becoming weaker. You could have osteoporosis now or be at risk without realizing it.
I’m a man, osteoporosis is a woman’s health issue. While osteoporosis is common among white women, men and women of all races and ethnicities can develop the disease. Up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
I’m too young to worry about osteoporosis, I’m only 25. Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes youth the best time to build strong bones to last a lifetime. Also, osteoporosis can also strike at any age.
Osteoporosis is an inevitable part of aging. This may have been the view 30 years ago, but today researchers know how you can protect your bones throughout your life.
You’re never too young or too old to improve the health of your bones. Osteoporosis prevention should begin in childhood, but it shouldn’t stop there. Whatever your age, the habits you adopt now can affect your bone health for the rest of your life.
National Osteoporosis Foundation