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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
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
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
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