NASS Public Affairs Staff
The best prevention begins in childhood. However, it is never too late to make small but effective changes that can stave off or even reverse bone loss.
Your risk of developing osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you build between ages 25 and 35 (peak bone mass) and how quickly you lose it as you grow older. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis during normal aging.
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D (which is essential for absorbing calcium) and exercising regularly can help ensure that your bones stay strong.
Calcium. The skeleton contains 99% of the body’s calcium. Calcium is necessary for proper functioning of the heart, nerves and muscles and is involved in vital functions from blood clotting to muscle contraction. As profoundly important as calcium is to these essential body functions, your skeleton’s health is so dependent on this mineral that it uses all but 1% of your body’s calcium. A diet low in calcium contributes to your risk for osteoporosis. Milk and dairy products as well as leafy green vegetables provide the calcium bones need.
Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Not getting enough vitamin D can cause your body to use the calcium stored in your bones. Sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, cod liver oil, egg yolks, liver and fatty fish such as salmon.
Exercise is crucial to good bone health. In particular, weight-bearing exercises (including but not limited to weightlifting, jogging, walking, hiking, stair climbing and push-ups) help increase bone strength. Please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Lifestyle. Stop smoking. There are many dire health consequences of using tobacco. Add bone loss to that list. Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to increased bone loss. Avoid fad diets. Fad diets often restrict food consumption to the point that you may not be consuming what your body needs. Eat a well-balanced diet and consult with your doctor for advice if you need to lose weight.