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During my last visit to the doctor I was told that I have low bone density and at risk for osteoporosis in the future. This really surprised me because I thought only older women get bone disease. What I would like to know is what can I do now to prevent osteoporosis? Are there any foods I should eat to avoid getting osteoporosis? Thanks. – Samie, Utah.

 

 

Prevent Osteoporosis in 5 Simple Steps

 

Hi Samie,

You may associate osteoporosis with elderly people but the fact is that this "silent disease" can affect any one of us, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, young or old, your ethnicity or genetic predisposition.

There are several things you can do now to prevent yourself from developing osteoporosis in old age. Adding more calcium-rich foods to your daily diet as well as getting 15 minutes of sunlight exposure is one of them. Calcium is essential for bone growth and maintenance while Vitamin D (which is formed in your skin when exposed to UV from sunlight) supports calcium absorption.

The recommended daily calcium intake you should have in your diet varies depending on your age. If you are under the age of 18, aim for 1300 mg, and if you are between 19 to 50 years old, you need 1000 mg. For people aged 51 and above, make sure to get 1200 mg calcium of calcium everyday.

 

 

Osteoporosis Prevention Foods: What Foods Contain Calcium and Vitamin D?

Milk, yogurt, kefir and cheese are very rich in calcium. If you have lactose intolerance and unable to digest dairy products, consider taking calcium supplements or increase your intake of calcium-rich non-dairy foods.

Baked beans and soy products such as soymilk, miso, tofu and tempeh can supply you with calcium. Black strap molasses, almonds, sesame seeds, tahini, kelp, dark green leafy vegetables including spinach collard, bok choy, and broccoli also have calcium in them.

Fish with soft edible bones like canned pink salmon and sardines are also good sources of calcium. Calcium enriched foods like breakfast cereals, bread, orange juice, and rice milk can help you meet your daily calcium requirement too.  

It can be quite a challenge to get enough bone-critical Vitamin D through diet alone as there are only a few food that naturally contain Vitamin D. They include margarine, oily fish, cod liver oil and eggs. So the next best thing you can do is to take a Vitamin D supplement. The recommendation is for 400 IU of Vitamin D daily for adults up to age 70.

Keep in mind that consuming too much protein and sodium (salt) can have a negative impact on bone health. Both are thought to increase calcium excretion through urine. The same goes for carbonated soft drinks, which can ruin your osteoporosis prevention diet.

 

 

What Can You Do to Slow Bone Loss and Prevent Osteoporosis?

Aside from making dietary changes to reduce your risk for osteoporosis, you should also stop smoking and control alcohol consumption. Numerous studies have shown that cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol intake (more than 2 units a day) can interfere with efficient calcium absorption, resulting in lowered bone mineral density (BMD) and increased risk of fractures.

If you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle, it is time to make physical activity a regular part of your life. Being more active and exercising put weight on your bones and help retard its deterioration. If you have a desk bound office job that keeps you on your seat for more than 9 hours a day, you are 50 per cent more likely to sustain a hip fracture than a person who sits for less than 6 hours a day.

Depending on your fitness level, the best exercises to prevent osteoporosis are weight-bearing exercises that not only stimulate bone formation and strength but also increase muscle tone and flexibility. Try walking, dancing, aerobics, or jogging (20 to 30 minutes, 3 times a week) for a bone-healthy lifestyle. Stair climbing, jumping rope, weight training, and yoga can also help build stronger bones and muscles.

Lastly, long-term use of certain medications can increase your chance of getting osteoporosis. These include corticosteroids for asthma and anticonvulsants to reduce chronic pain.

 

 

 

 

 

By Diane Hanson

 

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