Osteoporosis is a medical condition characterized by low bone density and increased risk of fractures. Active and healthy aging requires understanding bone health, and ensuring your lifestyle promotes healthy bones will prevent your risk of osteoporosis or fracture. The good news is it is never too late to begin improving your bone health and reduce your risk of fracture. Read below for some key recommendations to help prevent or treat osteoporosis through positive nutrition and lifestyle habits.
- Calcium intake
Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones. Good food sources of calcium include dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), fortified plant-based milk alternatives, leafy green vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, and spinach), tofu, and sardines. Aim for a daily calcium intake of 1,000 to 1,200 mg for adults.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium. It can be obtained through exposure to sunlight and from dietary sources like fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), fortified dairy products, eggs, and nutrient-rich cereals. Vitamin D supplements may also be recommended, especially for individuals with limited sun exposure. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 to 800 IU (International Units).
Including an adequate amount of protein in your diet is important for bone health. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, dairy products, and eggs.
- Magnesium and Vitamin K
Magnesium and vitamin K are also important for bone health. Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K can be found in leafy green vegetables such as kale or spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and fermented foods like sauerkraut.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption can interfere with the absorption of calcium and affect bone health. Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men) and moderate your caffeine intake. Keep in mind that drinking alcohol also makes it easier to fall, which is how many people break their bones.
- Quit smoking
Smoking is associated with decreased bone density and increased risk of fractures. The nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco products are toxic to bone cells and may affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Smoking also depletes estrogen in women which is essential for protecting your bones. Furthermore, smoking makes exercise more difficult because of its harmful effects on the heart and lungs. Overall, smokers are more likely to break their bones than nonsmokers. Quitting smoking can help improve bone health.
- Regular exercise
Engaging in weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, dancing, and resistance training, can help strengthen bones and improve bone density. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day.
- Talk to your healthcare provider
Everyone’s health situation is unique, so it is important you discuss your specific needs and concerns with your healthcare provider or registered dietitian. They can offer personalized advice based on your medical history, lifestyle, and individual risk of bone fracture or osteoporosis.
- Fall prevention
Preventing falls is crucial for individuals with osteoporosis, as fractures can occur due to falls. Ensure your home is safe by removing tripping hazards, using handrails, and maintaining proper lighting. Regular balance and strength exercises can also help reduce falls.
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