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5 Healthy Resolutions for Women

Experts share their thoughts on the top 5 things women can do to get healthy and well in the new year.

New Year's Resolution No. 3: Guard Against the Bone Thief continued...

"A lot of women feel that when they're not babies anymore, they don't have to worry about their bones, but it's quite the contrary," says Taub-Dix. "Watching calcium in your diet even as a young child or teen is very important, because that is the setup for what your bones may look like later on in life."

Osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease, is major public health threat for 44 million Americans, 80% of whom are women, according to the National Institute of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases. One out of every two women over 50 years old will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime.

To help prevent osteoporosis, Taub-Dix suggests getting at least three servings of dairy a day. Healthy sources of dairy include skim milk, low-fat cheeses, and yogurt. There are also nondairy options for calcium, such as canned salmon with bones, dark green vegetables, dried beans, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals. Calcium supplements can also help women meet their recommended daily intake.

Adequate intakes of calcium for women:

  • From age 11 to 24, between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams daily
  • From age 25 to 50, 1,000 milligrams daily
  • For postmenopausal women 1,000-1,500 milligrams daily if on menopausal hormone therapy
  • For pregnant and breastfeeding women, 1,200-1,500 milligrams daily

Women also should be aware that without vitamin D, calcium absorption is reduced.  This vitamin is found in some foods sources including fatty fish, fish liver oil, and diary products that are fortified with vitamin D. An adequate intake of vitamin D for adults ranges from 200-600 international units a day.

Weight-bearing exercises, which use gravity to put pressure on the bones, can also help strengthen bones. Examples include walking, running, aerobics, and dancing. Resistance-training exercises are also valuable as they help enhance muscle mass and bone strength.

Be aware that certain foods and medications may help weaken bones. There is some evidence that soda drinking can contribute to bone loss, primarily because many soda drinkers tend not to drink milk. Research also shows nicotine can slow down bone cell production and cause faster bone loss.

"It's important that you talk with your doctor about how much calcium you get in your diet, whether you smoke cigarettes, your family history, whether you've been on Depo-Provera, or you've had a history of other diseases that have required you to be on steroids or thyroid medications," says Mark.

The FDA recently issued a strong warning about potential bone density loss with use of the contraceptive Depo-Provera. Use of steroids and an overactive thyroid have also been associated with weak and thinning bones.

New Year's Resolution No. 4: Take Health Exams and Get an "A" for Good Health

Making a point to be up-to-date on health screenings may not sound sexy, but the tests could help you live longer and healthier.

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