Lifestyle Changes for Bone Health

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There are several lifestyle changes you can make to keep your bones as strong as they can be:

  • Get enough calcium. People older than 50 should get 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. Make foods that are high in calcium part of your diet:
    • dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese
    • calcium-fortified orange juice
    • dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, collard greens, and bok choy
    • tofu
    • almonds
    • vitamin-fortified cereal
    • calcium supplements
  • Get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. The current recommendation is that people younger than 50 get 200 international units (I.U.) of vitamin D per day. 400 international units per day is recommended for people aged 50-70, and 600 international units per day is recommended for people older than 70. The typical multivitamin contains 400 international units of vitamin D.

    Still, many researchers believe these recommendations are too low. The United States National Academy of Sciences is studying this issue and is expected to issue new, higher dietary guidelines for vitamin D intake.

    Your body makes vitamin D when you're in sunlight, but if you're indoors most of the time or live in areas where sunlight is limited, add foods rich in vitamin D to your diet:
    • vitamin D-fortified milk
    • herring, salmon, and tuna
    • vitamin-fortified cereal
    If you’re going to take a vitamin D supplement, most experts recommend taking the D3 form of the vitamin, not the D2 form.
  • Do weight-bearing exercise. Exercise makes your bones and muscles stronger and helps slow bone loss. Do 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise 3-4 times a week for maximum bone health benefits:
    • walking
    • jogging
    • stair climbing
    • playing tennis, racquetball, or squash
    • dancing
    • lifting weights
    You can do your 30 minutes of exercise 10 minutes at a time during the day to make it easier.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol. Heavy drinking increases the risk of bone loss.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking weakens bones and can lead to osteoporosis.

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