Osteoporosis Prevention

Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease that causes bones to break easily, affects women and men of all ages. It is a major public health concern for 28 million Americans, approximately 80% of whom are women. An estimated 50% of all women over the age of 65 are affected and as many as one in two women and one in eight men will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a "silent disease." An individual cannot feel their bones becoming weak and fragile. Fortunately, osteoporosis now can be diagnosed before fractures occur by measuring bone density and beginning treatment early.

Risk Factors
  • Female
  • White/Caucasian
  • Post menopausal women
  • Older adults
  • Small in body size
  • Eating a diet low in calcium
  • Physically inactive
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To find out more about risk factors, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation Osteoporosis is a "silent disease." An individual cannot feel their bones becoming weak and fragile. Fortunately, osteoporosis now can be diagnosed before fractures occur by measuring bone density and beginning treatment early.

Prevention

Prevention of osteoporosis should begin in childhood and continue throughout life.

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral needed by the body for healthy bones, teeth, and proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. The body cannot produce calcium; therefore, it must be absorbed through food. Good sources of calcium include
  • Dairy products—low fat or nonfat milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Dark green leafy vegetables—bok choy and broccoli
  • Calcium fortified foods—orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages, and tofu products
  • Nuts—almonds
Recommended Calcium Intakes
Ages
Amount mg/day
Birth-6 months
210
6 months - year
270
1-3
500
4-8
800
9-13
1300
14-18
1300
19-30
1000
31-50
1000
51-70
1200
70 or older
1200
Pregnant & Lactating
1000
14-18
1300
19-50
1000

Source: Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium,National Academy of Sciences, 1997

Vitamin D also plays an important role in healthy bone development. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium (this is why milk is fortified with vitamin D).

For more information on calcium and children visit the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Weight-Bearing Physical Activity
Regular physical activity has been associated with many positive health benefits including strong bones. Weight-bearing physical activities cause muscles and bones to work against gravity. Some examples of weight bearing physical activities include:
  • Walking, Jogging, or running
  • Tennis or Racquetball
  • Field Hockey
  • Stair climbing
  • Jumping rope
  • Basketball
  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Soccer
  • Weight lifting
Incorporating weight-bearing physical activity into an exercise plan is a great way to keep bones healthy and meet physical activity recommendations set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Adults: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity [on] most, preferably all, days of the week

Children
: Engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity [on] most, preferably all, days of the week
Links
National Osteoporosis Foundation
Powerful Bones Powerful Girls