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Osteoporosis Questions

How can I prevent weak bones?

The best way to prevent weak bones is easy―start by building strong ones.

No matter how old you are, it is never too late to start! Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence is the best defense against getting osteoporosis later. Building strong bones at a young age will lessen the effects of the natural bone loss that starts around age 30. As you get older, your bones don’t make new bone quickly enough to keep up with the bone loss. And after menopause, bone loss increases more quickly. But there are steps you can take to stop your bones from becoming weak and brittle.

1. Get enough calcium each day.

Bones are made of calcium. The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to get enough calcium in your diet. You need enough calcium each day for strong bones throughout life. You can get it through foods and/or calcium pills, which you can get at the drug store. Talk with your doctor or nurse before taking calcium pills to see which kind is best for you.

Here’s how much calcium you need each day.

Ages
Milligrams per day
9-18
1300
19-50
1000
51 and older

1200

Pregnant or nursing women need the same amount of calcium as other women of the same age.

Here are some foods to help you get the calcium you need. Check the food labels for more information.

Food
Portion
Milligrams
Percent
Plain, fat free (or low fat) yogurt
1 cup
450
45
American cheese
2 ounces
348
35
Milk (fat free or low fat)
1 cup
300
30
Orange juice with added calcium
1 cup
300
30
Broccoli, cooked or fresh
1 cup
90
10

*% Daily Value tells you how much of the recommended daily amount of that nutrient is in that portion of food.

2. Get enough vitamin D each day.

It is also important to get enough vitamin D, which helps your body take in calcium. You can get vitamin D through sunlight and foods like milk. You need 10-15 minutes of sunlight to the hands, arms, and face, two to three times a week to get enough vitamin D. The amount of time depends on how sensitive your skin is to light, use of sunscreen, skin color, and pollution. You can also get vitamin D by eating foods or in your vitamin pills. It’s measured in international units (IU).

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