The process of bone thinning
(osteoporosis) is a natural part of aging. But if you
receive treatment early, you may be able to stop or slow the progress of bone
loss. Treatment is important to:
- Prevent broken bones.
- Maintain or
increase your bone thickness.
- Relieve pain caused by
fractures and changes to bones.
your ability to function physically.
Treatment for osteoporosis includes eating a diet rich in
calcium and vitamin D, getting regular weight-bearing exercise, and taking medicine to reduce
bone loss and increase bone thickness. Even
small changes in diet, exercise, and medicine can help prevent
spine and hip fractures. Adults who adopt healthy
habits can slow the progress of osteoporosis.
See a picture of
healthy bone versus bone weakened by osteoporosis .
If you have been diagnosed with
osteoporosis, your doctor likely will recommend
lifestyle and diet changes. Eat foods rich in
vitamin D, which are needed for keeping bones
healthy and strong.
Your bones need vitamin D to absorb calcium. Getting more vitamin D may help prevent falls in older people who are low in vitamin D.6 And some studies show that taking vitamin D may reduce the chances of breaking a bone.7 Talk to your doctor about measuring your vitamin D to be sure you are getting enough. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to
sunlight. Vitamin D is also added to milk, some calcium supplements, and many
For more information on taking calcium, see:
- Osteoporosis: Taking Calcium and Vitamin D.
Exercises, including weight-bearing exercise (walking,
jogging, stair climbing, dancing, or lifting weights), aerobics, and resistance
exercises are all effective in increasing bone mineral density and strength of
the spine. Walking also increases bone mineral density of the hip. And exercise increases strength and balance so you are less
likely to fall. Start out at an exercise level that you are comfortable with
and work up gradually. To be most effective, weight-bearing exercises should be
done for 30 minutes most days of the week, and resistance exercises 2 to 3 days
a week. If you stop exercising, your bones weaken and
may be more likely to break.
Along with exercise and diet, your
doctor will recommend that you not smoke and limit alcohol to no more than 2
drinks a day for men and no more than 1 drink a day for women. For more information on
quitting smoking, see the topic
In some cases,
medicines are prescribed to protect against bone loss. These medicines include
bisphosphonates such as risedronate (Actonel) and
alendronate (Fosamax), and parathyroid hormone (Forteo). It's important to get enough calcium and vitamin D and take prescribed medicine for the
disease. You need calcium and vitamin D to build strong, healthy bones. For more information on taking bisphosphonates, see:
- Osteoporosis: Should I Take Bisphosphonate Medicines?