Often, the majority of adults, especially women, do not think about frail bones until they become older. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, millions of women already have, or are at risk of developing, osteoporosis, a disease of the bones where a break or fracture can easily occur.
“The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to work on building strong bones as soon as you can,” said Randy Wise, RN, orthopedic research and outcomes nurse at Memorial Medical Center. “Building strong bones during childhood and teen years is one of the best ways to keep from getting osteoporosis later. Unfortunately, most kids and women do not get the recommended daily allowance of calcium in their diet.”
“However, no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to start building stronger bones,” he said.
The following is a list of recommendations to improve bone health that Wise shares with his patients.
1. Get enough calcium each day. Pregnant or nursing women need the same amount of calcium as other women of the same age.
- Daily Calcium Requirements
- Ages 9-18 1,300 Milligrams (mg) per day
- Ages 19-50 1,000 mg per day
- Common, Calcium-Rich Foods*
- Plain, fat-free yogurt, 1 cup, 452 mg calcium
- Milk (fat-free), 1 cup, 306 mg calcium
- Milk (1 percent low-fat), 1 cup, 290 mg calcium
- Tofu with added calcium, 1/2 cup, 253 mg calcium
- Spinach, frozen, 1/2 cup, 146 mg calcium
- White beans, canned, 1/2 cup, 106 mg calcium
- *The calcium amounts of these foods are taken from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Be sure to check the food labels for more information.
2. Get enough vitamin D each day to help your body absorb calcium from the food you eat. Vitamin D is produced in your skin when it is exposed to sunlight, or you can also get vitamin D by consuming certain foods, such as milk, or by taking vitamin pills.
3. Eat a healthy diet. Other nutrients (like vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc, as well as protein) help build strong bones, too. Include foods like lean meat, fish, green leafy vegetables and oranges.
4. Get moving. Activity has been shown to slow bone loss and improve muscle strength.
5. Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your chances of getting osteoporosis.
6. Drink alcohol moderately (or not at all). Alcohol can make it harder for your body to use the calcium you take in.
7. Make your home safe to reduce your chances of falling. Use a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub. Keep your floors free from clutter. Remove throw rugs that may cause you to trip. Make sure you have grab bars in the bath or shower.
8. Think about taking medicines to prevent or treat bone loss.
9. Talk with your physician about the risks and benefits of medicines for bone loss.
Enjoy LiveWell Online Magazine? Stay up-to-date with a free email subscription!