10 Secrets to Stronger Bones
Introduction to bone health
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens your bones over time.
But there are many things you can do to make your bones stronger. Keep reading to learn how...
Eat more calcium
99% of the calcium in your body is in your bones and teeth. Calcium helps keep bones healthy and helps build new bone.
Nutritious food is the absolute best source of calcium. Dairy products, such as low-fat and nonfat milk, yogurt and cheese are high in calcium. Dark green vegetables and foods such as milk, yogurt and almonds contain calcium in smaller amounts. Start reading food labels to see how much calcium you are getting in the foods you eat.
Get enough vitamin D
Your body needs vitamin D to help it absorb calcium.
You can get vitamin D through:
Sunlight: Your skin makes vitamin D when you are exposed to ultraviolet light rays.
Food: Fatty fish (such as mackerel, salmon and tuna) contain vitamin D. It's also added to some dairy products, orange juice, soymilk and cereals.
A simple blood test can help determine if you are getting enough vitamin D.
It can be hard to keep track of exactly how much calcium or vitamin d you are getting from foods or exposure to sunlight.
As a result, many people who have osteoporosis (or are trying to prevent it) take Vitamin D supplements. Talk to your doctor to learn if a supplement could help you.
Don't drink too much or smoke
If you are taking steps to get more calcium into your diet, don't sabotage your efforts with alcohol. Drinking too much can lower your body's calcium supply and reduce bone formation.
Smoking is also harmful. This habit can make it harder for your body to absorb calcium. And the chemicals in cigarettes deteriorate bone cells.
Regular exercise can make your bones stronger. Consider the following three:
Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, hiking or tennis
Muscle-strengthening exercises, done with weights or elastic exercise bands
Balance and posture exercises, and other no-impact activities
Aim for 30 minutes a day of some kind of exercise. You can do it all at once or break the activity into 10-minute blocks of time.
Tripping, slipping and falling down can easily result in a broken bone if you have osteoporosis or low bone mass. Each year, about one-third of all persons over age 65 will fall.
Take a few moments to think about your daily routine and how you can stay safe. For example, wear shoes with proper ankle support and ground grip to help prevent falls, use handrails and clear clutter away from the floor in your house. Keep your stairways well lit. Be mindful of potentially slippery floors in public buildings.
Get an annual exam
A recently broken or fractured a bone is another sign that you may have osteoporosis. Even if a fall or accident directly cased the broken bone, having undiagnosed osteoporosis may have contributed to the break because your bones were already weakened.
If you have broken or fractured a bone (wrist, hip, etc.), talk to your doctor about getting tested for osteoporosis.
Get regular bone density scans
A bone density scan is the only way your doctor can really tell if you have osteoporosis. The most common type of test—a Central DXA—measures the density of your hip and spine.
Every woman over age 65 should get a DXA scan. And so should anyone who has broken a bone after age 50 or is experiencing height loss.
If you are taking an osteoporosis medicine, you should get a follow-up bone density test every one to two years.
Follow your doctor's
If your doctor prescribes an osteoporosis medication, be sure to follow your treatment schedule. Whether that means taking a pill, putting on a patch, using a nasal spray or getting an injection.
The medication won't work unless you use it as directed. And your doctor won't be able to figure out if the medication is helping you unless you follow the treatment schedule.
Think positive thoughts
Congratulations! The first step toward improving your health is to educate yourself. We hope that having this information inspires you to renew your commitment to better health.
Osteoporosis is a preventable and treatable disease—especially if you embark on a healthy lifestyle and work closely with your doctor to manage your condition.