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Building Stronger Bones
There are a variety of ways to help protect yourself against osteoporosis:
- Exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, done at least three to four times a week, are best for preventing osteoporosis. Walking, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing are all good weight-bearing exercises.
- Eat foods high in calcium. People at higher risk of osteoporosis, such as those over 50, should get up to 1,500 milligrams of calcium each day. Excellent dietary sources of calcium are milk and dairy products (low-fat versions are recommended); canned fish with bones like salmon and sardines; dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, collards and broccoli; calcium-fortified orange juice; and breads made with calcium-fortified flour.
- Supplements. If you aren't able to get enough calcium in your diet, you can take calcium supplements, such as calcium carbonate or calcium citrate, to make up the difference. Calcium carbonate is absorbed best when taken with food, while calcium citrate is taken any time. The amount of elemental calcium varies with these products. Elemental calcium is the amount of calcium that is needed from the supplement.
- Vitamin D. Being out in the sun for a total of 20 minutes every day helps the bodies of most people make enough vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from eggs, fatty fish like salmon, cereal and milk fortified with vitamin D, and from supplements. People aged 51 to 70 should get 400 IU each day, and those over age 70 should get 600 IU.
- Other preventive steps. Limit alcohol consumption and do not smoke. Smoking and too much alcohol can weaken your bones.