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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Building Better Bones

An Osteoporosis Quiz

  1. Your bones start to thin at what age?

    Until roughly age 30, people normally build more bone than they lose. It's wise to strengthen bones as much as possible during this youthful period to reduce the chances of weak bones and fractures later in life. After 30 or so, bone naturally breaks down more rapidly than it builds up. This leads to gradual loss of bone mass and sometimes osteoporosis.

  2. Thinning bones contribute to which health problems?

    Thinning bones may lead to osteoporosis, a condition marked by loss of bone mass and strength. At first, osteoporosis may cause no symptoms. But as it progresses, you may have back pain and fractures, as well as loss of height and a stooped posture.

  3. At what age does exercise do the most to build bone strength?

    While exercise is important at any age for bone strength, it's most helpful during periods of rapid growth. So the teen years are perfect for engaging in weight-bearing exercises to achieve this goal. Your genes play a role in determining the maximum size and density of your bones, but proper exercise will help your bones reach peak strength. In later years, exercise will also help slow the natural loss of bone that occurs with age.

  4. Which form of exercise benefits bones the most?

    You've probably heard that "weight-bearing" exercises help your bones, but that doesn't mean you have to grunt at the gym all day. Walking and jogging are also weight-bearing exercises. So are stair-climbing, tennis, and dancing -- any exercise that works the muscles and bones against gravity. Swimming offers a good cardiovascular workout and strengthens muscles, but it doesn't offer the same bone benefits as weight-bearing exercise.

  5. Which age group needs the most calcium daily?

    Children ages 9-18 need the most calcium -- about 1,300 mg each day -- because their bones are growing rapidly. By the end of this period, youths will have established almost 90% of their adult bone mass. In contrast, adults ages 19-50 require 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Those 50 and older need 1,200 mg per day.

  6. Which food has the most calcium per serving?

    Yogurt has the most calcium, as much as 452 mg for an 8-ounce serving of the non-fat variety. In comparison, a cup of low-fat milk has 290 mg and a cup of skim milk contains 306 mg. For high-calcium vegetables, try broccoli (94 mg for one cup of cooked, frozen broccoli) or collards (226 mg for one cup of cooked greens).

    You can also boost your calcium intake with calcium-fortified juices, cereals, and breads. Don't count on foods such as cream cheese or half-and-half, though; they're mostly fat, with little calcium content. Cream cheese has only 12 mg of calcium per tablespoon.

  7. Which vitamin is necessary for your body to absorb calcium?

    Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and regulate levels of calcium in your bones. You can get vitamin D through food (such as salmon, canned sardines, or vitamin D-fortified milk) or through supplements. Vitamin D is also called the "sunshine vitamin" because your body will form it naturally when you're out in the sun. It takes very little sun to get a good dose of vitamin D -- just 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week without sunscreen. Most of us get that much sun during normal outdoor activities.

  8. If you don't get enough calcium from food, you should take supplements:

    Your body absorbs calcium supplements best if they're taken two or three times a day in amounts of 500 mg or less each time. But taking it all at once is better than not taking it at all. Calcium supplements that contain vitamin D are more easily absorbed by your body. While supplements are useful, be aware that getting calcium from food is best. Food offers other benefits, such as fiber, antioxidants, and protein.

    Both men and women aged 19-50 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day. People over age 50 need 1,200 mg daily. Calcium and vitamin D supplements may help protect postmenopausal women from hip fractures, but only if they're taken daily.

  9. Which contributes to thinning bones?

    Too much alcohol may lower your ability to absorb calcium. For your bones and overall health, women should have no more than one drink a day. Men can have up to 2 drinks a day. Remember that one drink equals 5 ounces of wine, one 12 ounce beer, or 1 ounce of liquor. Smoking and too much caffeine also increase bone loss. Limit yourself to about two cups of coffee a day, which should be fine as long as your diet provides adequate calcium.

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