Osteoporosis is when your bones become weak and brittle.  Bones may become so weak that even a mild stress like coughing or bending over can cause a fracture. Fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine.

Osteoporosis is known as a “silent” disease because bone loss can happen without any symptoms until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis affects more than 53 million people in the US. It can affect both men and woman but woman, after menopause, are at greatest risk.

It is important to keep your bones healthy to prevent osteoporosis.

1. Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that the body needs for good health and is essential for keeping bones and teeth strong.

  • Most people need between 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg of calcium daily, depending on age and stage of life. It is best to try to get calcium from the food you eat.
  • Calcium can be found in low fat dairy products, dark leafy green vegetables, soy products like tofu, and calcium fortified cereals and juices.
  • It also is available as a nutrition supplement. Talk to your provider about taking calcium.

2. Avoid excessive alcohol use

Drinking too much alcohol can disrupt the balance of calcium in the body and lessen calcium absorption. Excessive alcohol use can also lead to more falls and fractures.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and keeps your bones strong.

  • Most people need between 400 IU to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Sun exposure is required to activate it.
  • Vitamin D is naturally available in very few foods, including fatty fish like wild-caught mackerel, salmon and tuna. It is also added to some beverages and foods, such as milk and cereals.
  • Vitamin D may be taken as a supplement form. Talk to your provider about taking Vitamin D.

4. Exercise

Similar to your muscles, you make your bones stronger by exercising. The best type of exercise to strengthen your bones is weight-bearing activity where you are working against gravity like weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.  Balance exercises like tai chi may reduce your risk from falling.

5. Quit smoking

Tobacco smoking has many impacts on your bone health. Tobacco decreases your bone density and can increase your risk of having a fracture. Smoking can also negatively impact bone healing after a fracture.