As the body ages, it’s increasingly at risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition in which weak or porous bones can lead to painful fractures of the hips, wrist, and spine. Take these simple, practical steps to improve your bone health and protect your body.
Consume plenty of calcium
Calcium helps to keep your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. It is recommended you get 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium daily, and the only way to do it is through diet.
- Have fortified oatmeal for breakfast
One pack of unsweetened instant oatmeal has over 180 mg of calcium, about 15% of the daily recommended amount. Get the kind that has added nutrients but no added sugar. Combine whole milk, almond milk, or yogurt with your oatmeal for extra calcium.
- Try canned seafood
Canned sardines, shrimp, and salmon are all packed with calcium and high in protein. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, too.
- Eat more nuts, beans, and leafy greens
Almonds, Brazil nuts, and pistachios are all rich sources of calcium. Put a few handfuls in a small plastic bag and keep it nearby to snack on. Traditional baked beans and white beans both provide a bunch of calcium. Eat them on their own, or add them to a low-sodium soup. Leafy greens, too, offer a lot of calcium. Collard greens, kale, bok choy, and raw spinach are all good options.
- Take a calcium supplement
If your diet alone doesn’t help you to reach the daily recommended amount of calcium, talk to a doctor or pharmacist about adding over-the-counter calcium supplements to your daily routine.
Increase your Vitamin D intake
Vitamin D helps your body hold onto bone-strengthening nutrients. Without enough vitamin D, your bones may weaken, increasing the risk of fracture.
- Eat cereal fortified with vitamin D, eggs, and fatty fish (such as salmon)
These food options are all ways to get the recommended amount of vitamin D, which is 800 international units (IU) per day.
- Get at least 5 to 10 minutes of daily sun exposure
Spending a little time in the sunlight helps your body to absorb vitamin D naturally.
Participate in weight-bearing exercise
- Go for a walk or jog
The pace and frequency of your walks or jogs are up to you. Your doctor or certified personal trainer can help you decide what is appropriate. Typically 20 to 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week, is recommended.
- Climb stairs, do bench steps or jumping exercises
These activities can be a step up in intensity from walking or jogging. They are great for strengthening your bones and getting a vigorous aerobic workout.
- Do resistance or strength training
A session of lifting, pushing, and pulling weights (or resistance bands) 2 to 3 times per week is good for your bones and promotes overall health.
Make lifestyle changes
- Quit smoking
Smoking may be a significant risk factor for bone loss. Not only that, smokers are shown to display poorer balance than non-smokers, raising the chances of falling and breaking a bone.1
- Avoid excessive alcohol use
Heavy alcohol consumption interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and regulate calcium, vitamin D, and hormones. It may also increase your risk of bone density loss and bone fracture.2
Consider putting some or all of these tips into practice. They may help to strengthen your bones and protect your body against osteoporosis.
- Wong PKK, Christie JJ, Wark JD. The effects of smoking on bone health. Clinical Science. 2007;113(5):233-241.
- Jang H-D, Hong J-Y, Han K, et al. Relationship between bone mineral density and alcohol intake: A nationwide health survey analysis of postmenopausal women. Plos One. 2017;12(6).>